Recipe for a lightweight Cement Cake la McEwanTake Lord of the Flies, and mix it carefully with Flowers in the Attic Once you see that the ingredients have formed a foamy, light and creamy texture, with the young characters wiped out in generic sweet sour blandness, you put the cake in the oven, and wait for sixty minutes, just enough time to read through the novel.Once the plot has been baked, you make sure to add incredibility and incest as additional spices, end it in an predictably wannabe hot, but actually rather lukewarm decorative sexual shock icing on the cake.Put the cement cake on the Bake Off table and be assured it will win prizes for the categories Indulging in sinful calory countingWord Baking Fast Food StyleEffectful Surface and TextureEasy on the Digestive SystemMeaningless PleasureSweet with a Bitter AftertasteIt may not win the first prize, as it causes slight nausea afterwards, and it contains too many nuts and unnecessary ingredients But on the whole, it is a light meal for lazy summer days, and is particularly tasty with an alcoholic beverage of your preference 6 She lifted herself slightly and sank down A cool thrill un furled from my belly and I sighed too Finally we looked at each other Julie smiled and said, It s easy I sat up a little way and pressed my face into her breasts She took a nipple between her fingers again and found my mouth.As I sucked and that same shudder ran through my sister s body, I heard and felt a deep, regular pulse, a great, dull slow thudding which seemed to rise through the house and shake it I fell back and Julie crouched forwards We moved slowly in time to the sound till it seemed to be moving us, pushing us along. This was McEwan s very first novel, which earned him the fame and the nickname Ian Macabre It was narrated by a 15 year old boy on his life with his three young siblings in a secluded big house shortly after the death of both parents They grew up in an isolated and dysfunctional family The lack of adult supervision and sexual experiences, and the yearning for kinship while desiring individual space, led them to explorations and experiments that beyond inexplicable It was haunting and disturbing to say the least Comparing to his later works I ve read, it was simpler, straightforward storytelling, but similarly atmospheric, with equally skilled character craftsmanship I felt his prose was smooth, but not quite as dazzling as in his recent books. Will it reflect badly on me if I say this book isn t sordid enough to be entertaining or truly affecting Considering how unsettling and uncomfortable it already is Four siblings, ranging from 6 to 17, who have too close for comfort of a relationship if the word incest flashed in you mind, you are correct it is not a spoiler, the action starts on page 2 , witness both their parents die within the weeks of each other When their mother dies, they make a decision to bury her in the cellar and to not tell anyone, to keep their family intact Left to their own devices, these children go through the motions of playing house and, you guessed it, they don t do it very well.The Cement Garden gives a predictably disturbing and occasionally icky picture of what can happen to kids isolated from the community and unsupervised by adults As much as I hate reading about incest, especially when it is written as some romantic device or for melodramatic effect, here it is strangely understandable, albeit not less gross However, the novel didn t quite work for me I thought there was to say about the family, the kids parents, their path to such a taboo closeness The point the author was trying to make with this story evaded me I just didn t quite get it or even if I did, the novel failed to affect me as much as Atonement and On Chesil Beach did in the past It happens rather often when I read McEwan though. In This Tour De Force Of Psychological Unease Now A Major Motion Picture Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg And Sinead Cusack McEwan Excavates The Ruins Of Childhood And Uncovers Things That Most Adults Have Spent A Lifetime Forgetting Or Denying Possesses The Suspense And Chilling Impact Of Lord Of The Flies Washington Post Book World Ian McEwan s The Cement Garden is, quite clearly not for everyone There are several severely disturbing incidents throughout the book that might make some readers wonder why they bought it, and where is the nearest bookstore to return it There are other groups both of a religious fascist nature the two are not always mutually exclusive that might have it pencilled in on their things to burn list In the hands of a lesser writer, much of this book would seem vulgar However, in McEwan s capable hands the book is instead disturbingly beautiful The book is very short, and to say almost anything about it is to give almost everything away, so you will find no excerpts or plot points in this review Suffice to say that The Cement Garden is a brilliant, gripping read that feels like it s over before it began. This book is fucked up, sick, and creepyI loved it I love McEwan s style He doesn t clutter his writing with unnecessary words, yet he says so much His writing is sharp and clean He is so good at invoking a specific mood at the very beginning of a novel, and then continuing to give the reader that same feeling throughout Then, just when you re sufficiently creeped out or unnerved or whatever it is you ve been feeling, it gets even intense The book is a first person narrative told by the eldest son of a family of four children Two boys and two girls It describes what the children do with themselves when both of their parents die relatively close to one another The kids are already insular and strange, and we see how they deal with caring for themselves and their surroundings We also see how their roles and interactions with each other change after the second parent dies I don t want to give anything away, but I want to say that I like it when a book unnerves me, and this did the job. Told in straight forward sentences, this first novel reads like a very good writer s memoir I love the deep truth of some pretty extreme behavior by a family of orphaned siblings, which portends the even sophisticated truths of oblique human behavior in later books There is none of the lyricism or solid chapters of inner dialogue that characterize McEwan s style today I m glad I didn t start with this book, because now that I am an ardent fan, it was even interesting to see where he began. 3.5 , rounded up This is quite dark and odd, which I like, but it felt a little incomplete It s a very short book, yet even so the narrative lacked some necessary urgency Still, it s a compelling read, and McEwan is a wonderful stylist, though in this book he s restrained and straightforward than in Atonement. Concrete Civilisations Ian McEwan s Cement Garden left me with the same disquieting feelings I had after reading William Golding s Lord of the Flies In fact, I became aware of their resemblance right from the beginning, not in the sense of an imitation, of course, far from it, but in the choice of the theme and the way to develop it Both books argue about the famous nature versus nurture, revealing how thin the shell of civilization is, how easy social conventions are forgotten when the link with society is broken And the childhood is the most ill equipped period of life to prevent this involution, since childhood is no secret garden, the authors warn us, but a dangerous hunting ground, be it an island or a shabby house, haunted by invisible monsters born of nightmares, transforming a sow s head eaten by flies in a powerful Lord and a cement filled trunk full of indiscrete cracks in a eerie garden In the absence of the adults to sanction their moves and beliefs, children easily regress to primitive beings, barely human despite their efforts to imitate adulthood However, if Golding analysed mainly the gregarious psychology and the penchant for cruelty versus assertion of individuality and compassion, McEwan is interested in the crumble of the family values in all Freudian ways possible parricide, incest, sex confusion, regression to infancy, as results of parental abuse and isolation, as it is suggested right from the beginning by the fifteen year old narrator I did not kill my father, but I sometimes felt I had helped him on his way.The story of the four siblings taking care of themselves after their parents death is, symbolically, the story of the world after the apocalypse, when none of the old constraints and values is applicable The cement garden gains thus a triple significance it refers either to the monstrous garden built by an obsessive, abusive and tasteless father, and to the ad hoc grave of a submissive, without authority and ignorant mother and to the barren, catastrophic childhood of the protagonists left alone to discover that beings are interchangeable and rules are confusing and altogether futile in a world that gained the attributes of a perpetual, out of time nightmare It s funny, Julie said, I ve lost all sense of time It feels like it s always been like this I can t really remember how it used to be when Mum was alive and I can t really imagine anything changing Everything seems still and fixed and it makes me feel that I m not frightened of anything I said, Except for the times I go down into the cellar I feel like I m asleep Whole weeks go by without me noticing, and if you asked me what happened three days ago I wouldn t be able to tell you In the end, however, again like in Lord of the Flies, the adults come back and the order is restored Or is it For the return to a society that will surely discipline them into the image of their awful parents is no happy ending in the dismally fascinating worlds, so different and so alike, these two great writers have created.
First Love, Last Rites the Whitbread Novel Award 1987 and the Prix F mina Etranger 1993 for
- 144 pages
- The Cement Garden
- Ian McEwan
- 08 July 2019 Ian McEwan