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Saturday by Ian McEwan

Saturday (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Ian McEwan (Author)

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8,967207506 (3.68)235
Authors:Ian McEwan (Author)
Info:Anchor (2006), Edition: 1st Thus., 304 pages
Collections:Your library

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Saturday by Ian McEwan (2005)

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English (183)  French (7)  Dutch (5)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  Norwegian (2)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Catalan (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (207)
Showing 1-5 of 183 (next | show all)
This novel follows Henry Perowne, neurosurgeon, through an eventful Saturday. It starts off normal enough--he plays squash with a friend, visits his mom with Alzheimers, buys ingredients for the night's dinner. He is eager to see his daughter, who is currently in Parus, and hoping she will make up with her grandfather over dinner.

The day starts off strange, as he watches what he thinks is a plane crash or terrorist attack. He has a minor car accident in the confusion of road closures around a protest march. And that accident comes back to haunt his entire family.

I found this novel to start off very very slowly. The last hundred or so pages were more lively, but I was already tired of the book by then. This reminded me of Mrs Dalloway in the way it covers one day in a life. ( )
  Dreesie | May 27, 2018 |
I will start off by saying the prose was utterly breathtaking. Obviously, McEwan knows how to write. It was philosophical, and descriptive, and evocative, and it's usually exactly what I love about reading stories. However, I did find an issue which nagged at me all throughout my reading experience of this novel - in plain words, the writing was a bit too beautiful. It was dense with philosophical musings. What I mean to say, and what I think I realized during my reading, is that I much prefer to find philosophical insights on a much smaller scale. I want them - these moments of truth - to be rare, like gems, to flash out at me and grab my attention. And here, it felt like this whole book was devoted to analyzing human life with literary descriptiveness and poise - and I think, by the end, nothing stuck by me. Because it was all a big philosophical gobble, and I couldn't hang on to any particular phrase. This might all be just a tremendous baseless philosophical musing on my part, and on second reading of this book it might change (not that I'm going to read it a second time, to be honest). I might just not have read it in the right mood, or with the right attention to details - but on the whole, the story fell a little flat for me, and it was nothing that the writing - beautiful as it might have been - could make up for. ( )
  UDT | May 1, 2018 |
24-ish hours in the life of a London surgeon. Closely written. I liked it well enough, but do not give me a character named Grammaticus and expect it not to distract me the whole time. ( )
  Laurelyn | Oct 20, 2017 |
This is the story of one day, Saturday, in the life of Henry Perowne, neurosurgeon, a well-drawn, convincing character. The story would not have worked on any other day of the week, because Saturday is the day filled with plans that can't be fitted into the working week: a squash game, a protest march, a visit to mother. The author does a fine job of letting the reader inside Perowne's head to see how he considers life in close-up. A description of his squash game might have been dull but instead it was interesting to see how the game developed and compared with the events of the day.

McEwan's story dips into many topics: politics, literature, music, war, surgery, family relationships, aging, and morality. It was a thought-provoking story that I enjoyed, especially the ending, where the topic of morality played a part. However, it is McEwan's beautiful prose that is the real draw for me: his words pour onto the paper like honey. But why do I always think he writes with the Booker prize in mind? ( )
1 vote VivienneR | Sep 3, 2017 |
Saturday, February 15, 2003 doesn't seem that long ago but when McEwan talks about the political situation I realized how much has happened since then. mrsgaskell has alread talked about the huge anti-war demonstration that took place in London that day while Dr. Henry Perowne was filling his Saturday with other events. Despite that outpouring of sentiment, Britain joined the war in Iraq (while Canada, France and other nations stayed away) which was declared on March 19. The provocations for entering Iraq were mostly bogus but it did result in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's government. Of course, it can be debated if the replacement leaves the people of Iraq any better off. Nevertheless, Britain withdrew all combat troops earlier this year and the US troops are supposed to be out by 2011. Henry Perowne, like many other people at the time, has mixed feelings about the war but, probably because of an encounter with an Iraqi patient who filled him in on the situation in Iraq, tends to support the necessity for ousting Saddam Hussein. His children, on the other hand, are anti-war and this causes some conflict between father and his daughter, Daisy.

Mostly, though, Henry Perowne is blessed and recognizes this. He has a fulfilling job, a satisfying relationship with his wife and is very pleased with how his children turned out. There are some flies in the ointment, of course. He's getting older and the rigours of a squash game are starting to get to him. His mother has Alzheimer Disease and no longer recognizes him. His father-in-law drinks to excess and every encounter with him is problematic because of this. All of this pales when his home is invaded by a young tough that he encountered in a car accident earlier in the day. When the situation ends, the whole family is shaken and has to deal with the fallout. When Dr. Perowne is called in to operate on this same individual you can't help but wonder how you would react in the same situation.

McEwan is wonderful in his details. The descriptions of surgeries, the squash game, the visit to the nursing home and even the meal preparations are filled with vivid detail so that it felt like I was looking over Perowne's shoulder. Interestingly, McEwan works in a discussion about exactly this style of writing (at p. 67) in discussing Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary which Henry read at his daughter's insistence:
At the cost of slowing his mental processes and many hours of his valuable time, he committed himself to the shifting intricacies of these sophisticated fairy stories. What did he grasp, after all? That adultery is understandable but wrong, that nineteenth-century women had a hard time of it, that Moscow and the Russian countryside and provincial France were once just so. If, as Daisy said, the genius was in the detail, then he was unmoved. The details were apt and convincing enough, but surely not so very difficult to marshal if you were halfway observant and had the patience to write them all down. These books were the products of steady, workmanlike accumulation.
I don't think I agree with that assessment but if that's McEwan's feeling about his own work then long live steady, workmanlike accumulation!

Later on that same page he discusses the magical realism genre that his daughter also made him read. I laughed out loud when I read this comment:
'No more magic midget drummers,' he pleaded with her by post, after setting out his tirade. 'Please, no more ghosts, angels, satans or metamorphoses. When anything can happen, nothing much matters. It's all kitsch to me.' Bravo! ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 9, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 183 (next | show all)
L’acuité du regard et le sens du détail dévastateur. La profondeur de la réflexion politique autant que philosophique.
added by miniwark | editTélérama, Michel Abescat (Oct 14, 2006)
Overall, however, Saturday has the feel of a neoliberal polemic gone badly wrong; if Tony Blair—who makes a fleeting personal appearance in the book, oozing insincerity—were to appoint a committee to produce a "novel for our time," the result would surely be something like this.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, John Banville (pay site) (May 26, 2005)
[T]he lambent, stream-of-consciousness narrative that Mr. McEwan uses so adroitly in these pages. In fact, "Saturday" reads like an up-to-the-moment, post-9/11 variation on Woolf's classic 1925 novel "Mrs. Dalloway."
We have learned to expect the worst from Ian McEwan. Since his debut collection of stories, First Love, Last Rites, his fiction has always dwelt at the heart of places we hope never to find ourselves in: the vacancies left in lives by the kidnapped child or the lost lover; the mined no-man's-land that follows extreme violence or sexual obsession. His subject has always been damage and the way the darkest events in a life will drain the rest of love. For McEwan, happiness has rarely gone unpunished.

» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McEwan, Ianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Verhoef, RienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilby, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For instance? Well, for instance, what it means to be a man. In a city. In a century. In transition. In a mass. Transformed by science. Under organised power. Subject to tremendous controls. Ina condition caused by mechanization. After the late failure of radical hopes. In a society that was no community and devalued the person. Owing to the multiplied power of numbers which made the self negligible. Which spent military billions against foreign enemies but would not pay for order at home. Which permitted savagery and barbarism in its own great cities. At the same time, the pressure of human millions who discovered what concerted efforts and thoughts can do. As megatons of water shape organisms on the ocean floor. As tides polish stones. As winds hollow cliffs. The beautiful supermachinery opening a new life innumerable mankind. Would you deny them the right to exist? Would you ask them to labor and go hungry while you yourself enjoyed old-fashioned Values? You-you yourself are a child of this mass and a brother to all the rest. Or else an ingrate, dilettante, idiot. There, Herzog, thought Herzog, since you ask for the instance, is the way it runs.
-- Herzog, Saul Bellow, 1964
To Will and Greg McEwan
First words
Some hours before dawn Henry Perowne, a neurosurgeon, wakes to find himself already in motion, pushing back the covers from a sitting position, and then rising to his feet.
Kdyby Perowne projevoval sklony k náboženství, k nadpřirozeným vysvětlením, mohl by si pohrávat s představou, že byl povolán: tím, že byl probuzen a s neobvykle povzbuzenou myslí bezdůvodně přistoupil k oknu, měl by vzít na vědomí jakýsi skrytý řád, vnější inteligenci, jež mu chce sdělit nebo ukázat něco významného. Jenže neklidné město si nespavce doslova pěstuje, samo o sobě je nespící entitou, jejíž komunikační dráty nikdy nepřestávají bzučet, a mezi tolika miliony se musejí najít lidé, kteří se dívají z okna v době, kdy by normálně spali. A nejsou to každou noc titíž lidé. Že by tím vyvoleným měl být on, a ne někdo jiný, je náhoda. Ve hře je prostý antropogenetický princip. Primitivní přemýšlení o nadpřirozenu má sklony přerůst v to, čemu jeho kolegové psychiatři říkají představa o vlastní důležitosti. Přehánění jedine, přetváření světa v souladu s vlastními potřebami, neschopnost přemýšlet o vlastní bezvýznamnosti. Z Henryho hlediska patří takové uvažování do spektra, na jehož vzdáleném konci se jako opuštěný chrám tyčí psychóza. (s. 21)
Takhle začíná onen dlouhý proces, v jehož průběhu se stáváte dítětem svého dítěte. A nakonec od něj jednoho dne uslyšíte třeba: "Tati, jestli zase začneš brečet, jde se okamžitě domů." (s. 33)
Jaké štěstí, že žena, kterou miluje, je zároveň jeho manželka. (s. 40)
Tenhle všední cyklus usínání a probouzení, ve tmě pod vlastní přikrývkou, s další bytostí, bledá, hebká, citlivá bradavka, přibližující se obličeje v rituálu lásky, nakrátko zabydlené ve věčné potřebe tepla, pohodlí, bezpečí, proplétání údů, aby bylo možno přitáhnout se k sobě blíž - prostá denní útěcha, snad až příliš samozřejmá, že se na ni dá za úsvitu snadno zapomenout. Zaznamenal to kdy nějaký básník? (s. 49)
Sex je jiný živel, láme čas a rozum, je biologický hyperprostor vzdálený od vědomé existence tak jako sny nebo jako voda od vzduchu. Jiný živel, jak říkávala jeho matka, jiný živel - když si zaplaveš, Henry, den se ti promění. A dnešek bude jistě v porovnání s ostatnými jedinečný. (s.50)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099469685, Paperback)

Saturday, February 15, 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind and proud father of two grown-up children. Unusually, he wakes before dawn, drawn to the window of his bedroom and filled with a growing unease. What troubles him as he looks out at the night sky is the state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, a gathering pessimism since 9/11, and a fear that his city and his happy family life are under threat. Later, Perowne makes his way to his weekly squash game through London streets filled with hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors. A minor car accident brings him into a confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive, young man, on the edge of violence. To Perowne's professional eye, there appears to be something profoundly wrong with him. Towards the end of a day rich in incident and filled with Perowne's celebrations of life's pleasures, his family gathers for a reunion. But with the sudden appearance of Baxter, Perowne's earlier fears seem about to be realised.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:56 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

From the pen of a master-the #1 bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Atonement-comes an astonishing novel that captures the fine balance of happiness and the unforeseen threats that can destroy it. A brilliant, thrilling page-turner that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Saturday is a masterful novel set within a single day in February 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man-a successful neurosurgeon, happily married to a newspaper lawyer, and enjoying good relations with his children. Henry wakes to the comfort of his large home in central London on this, his day off. He is as at ease here as he is in the operating room. Outside the hospital, the world is not so easy or predictable. There is an impending war against Iraq, and a general darkening and gathering pessimism since the New York and Washington attacks two years before. On this particular Saturday morning, Perowne's day moves through the ordinary to the extraordinary. After an unusual sighting in the early morning sky, he makes his way to his regular squash game with his anaesthetist, trying to avoid the hundreds of thousands of marchers filling the streets of London, protesting against the war. A minor accident in his car brings him into a confrontation with a small-time thug. To Perowne's professional eye, something appears to be profoundly wrong with this young man, who in turn believes the surgeon has humiliated him-with savage consequences that will lead Henry Perowne to deploy all his skills to keep his family alive.… (more)

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