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1 Remote Warehouse Literature- A to Z

Saturday: A Novel

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Saturday: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9781400076192
ISBN10: 1400076196
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

One

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. It’s not clear to him when exactly he became conscious, nor does it seem relevant. He’s never done such a thing before, but he isn’t alarmed or even faintly surprised, for the movement is easy, and pleasurable in his limbs, and his back and legs feel unusually strong. He stands there, naked by the bed – he always sleeps naked – feeling his full height, aware of his wife’s patient breathing and of the wintry bedroom air on his skin. That too is a pleasurable sensation. His bedside clock shows three forty. He has no idea what he’s doing out of bed: he has no need to relieve himself, nor is he disturbed by a dream or some element of the day before, or even by the state of the world. It’s as if, standing there in the darkness, he’s materialised out of nothing, fully formed, unencumbered. He doesn’t feel tired, despite the hour or his recent labours, nor is his conscience troubled by any recent case. In fact, he’s alert and empty-headed and inexplicably elated. With no decision made, no motivation at all, he begins to move towards the nearest of the three bedroom windows and experiences such ease and lightness in his tread that he suspects at once he’s dreaming or sleepwalking. If it is the case, he’ll be disappointed. Dreams don’t interest him; that this should be real is a richer possibility. And he’s entirely himself, he is certain of it, and he knows that sleep is behind him: to know the difference between it and waking, to know the boundaries, is the essence of sanity.

The bedroom is large and uncluttered. As he glides across it with almost comic facility, the prospect of the experience ending saddens him briefly, then the thought is gone. He is by the centre window, pulling back the tall folding wooden shutters with care so as not to wake Rosalind. In this he’s selfish as well as solicitous. He doesn’t wish to be asked what he’s about – what answer could he give, and why relinquish this moment in the attempt? He opens the second shutter, letting it concertina into the casement, and quietly raises the sash window. It is many feet taller than him, but it slides easily upwards, hoisted by its concealed lead counterweight. His skin tightens as the February air pours in around him, but he isn’t troubled by the cold. From the second floor he faces the night, the city in its icy white light, the skeletal trees in the square, and thirty feet below, the black arrowhead railings like a row of spears. There’s a degree or two of frost and the air is clear. The streetlamp glare hasn’t quite obliterated all the stars; above the Regency façade on the other side of the square hang remnants of constellations in the southern sky. That particular façade is a reconstruction, a pastiche – wartime Fitzrovia took some hits from the Luftwaffe – and right behind is the Post Office Tower, municipal and seedy by day, but at night, half-concealed and decently illuminated, a valiant memorial to more optimistic days.

And now, what days are these? Baffled and fearful, he mostly thinks when he takes time from his weekly round to consider. But he doesn’t feel that now. He leans forwards, pressing his weight onto his palms against the sill, exulting in the emptiness and clarity of the scene. His vision – always good – seems to have sharpened. He sees the paving stone mica glistening in the pedestrianised square, pigeon excrement hardened by distance and cold into something almost beautiful, like a scattering of snow. He likes the symmetry of black cast-iron posts and their even darker shadows, and the lattice of cobbled gutters. The overfull litter baskets suggest abundance rather than squalor; the vacant benches set around the circular gardens look benignly expectant of their daily traffic – cheerful lunchtime office crowds, the solemn, studious boys from the Indian hostel, lovers in quiet raptures or crisis, the crepuscular drug dealers, the ruined old lady with her wild, haunting calls. Go away! she’ll shout for hours at a time, and squawk harshly, sounding like some marsh bird or zoo creature.

Standing here, as immune to the cold as a marble statue, gazing towards Charlotte Street, towards a foreshortened jumble of façades, scaffolding and pitched roofs, Henry thinks the city is a success, a brilliant invention, a biological masterpiece – millions teeming around the accumulated and layered achievements of the centuries, as though around a coral reef, sleeping, working, entertaining themselves, harmonious for the most part, nearly everyone wanting it to work. And the Perownes’ own corner, a triumph of congruent proportion; the perfect square laid out by Robert Adam enclosing a perfect circle of garden – an eighteenth-century dream bathed and embraced by modernity, by street light from above, and from below by fibre-optic cables, and cool fresh water coursing down pipes, and sewage borne away in an instant of forgetting.

An habitual observer of his own moods, he wonders about this sustained, distorting euphoria. Perhaps down at the molecular level there’s been a chemical accident while he slept – something like a spilled tray of drinks, prompting dopamine-like receptors to initiate a kindly cascade of intracellular events; or it’s the prospect of a Saturday, or the paradoxical consequence of extreme tiredness. It’s true, he finished the week in a state of unusual depletion. He came home to an empty house, and lay in the bath with a book, content to be talking to no one. It was his literate, too literate daughter Daisy who sent the biography of Darwin which in turn has something to do with a Conrad novel she wants him to read and which he has yet to start – seafaring, however morally fraught, doesn’t much interest him. For some years now she’s been addressing what she believes is his astounding ignorance, guiding his literary education, scolding him for poor taste and insensitivity. She has a point – straight from school to medical school to the slavish hours of a junior doctor, then the total absorption of neurosurgery training spliced with committed fatherhood – for fifteen years he barely touched a non-medical book at all. On the other hand, he thinks he’s seen enough death, fear, courage and suffering to supply half a dozen literatures. Still, he submits to her reading lists – they’re his means of remaining in touch as she grows away from her family into unknowable womanhood in a suburb of Paris; tonight she’ll be home for the first time in six months – another cause for euphoria.

Copyright © 2005 by Ian McEwan

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

douglas.dale1, January 27, 2010 (view all comments by douglas.dale1)
An fine example of the novel of the urban experience filled with literary in-jokes
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
ajmichaelis, January 3, 2010 (view all comments by ajmichaelis)
This book captures the apprehension and fear that infiltrated post-9/11 society better than any other I've read. McEwan ratchets up the tension in this thriller, which follows Henry, his protagonist, through a 24-hour period that begins with a misunderstanding and ends in a way you could never expect. Saturday is a finely wrought page-turner.
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(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
Bookie Star, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Bookie Star)
This book grabbed me from the first page and carried me through McEwan's facile tale of storytelling. His characters are always people you learn about but don't necessarily like. You know them so thoroughly by the end of the book that you understand their motivation and behavior. I love that McEwan introduces real life events which most readers can recall vividly and weaves his story with that as a backdrop, in this case the peace march which took place in London (simultaneously in other parts of the world) against the war in Iraq. Mc Ewan''s research is so impeccable that it adds another layer to the saga.
I read this when it first came out and I think back to it so often, since it was such a satisfying and disturbing read, as so many of his books tend to be.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400076192
Author:
McEwan, Ian
Publisher:
Anchor Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Criminals
Subject:
World politics
Subject:
London (england)
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
fiction;london;novel;british;england;terrorism;family;literature;contemporary;21st century;contemporary fiction;neurosurgery;uk;iraq war;english;literary fiction;2000s;neurosurgeon;crime;british fiction;mcewan;iraq;british literature;poetry;english litera
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
April 11, 2006
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8 x 5.2 x 0.63 in 0.5 lb

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Saturday: A Novel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Anchor Books - English 9781400076192 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Ian McEwan's new novel is generous, contemplative, and moving — and in good company, joining classics like Mrs. Dalloway and Ulysses that take place during a single day. McEwan intricately weaves characters and themes towards an eloquent and wrenching finale, and the beauty of his prose propels the plot with poetic momentum. Saturday is a gentle, brilliant, and inspiring work.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Ian McEwan's new novel is generous, contemplative, and moving — and in good company, joining classics like Mrs. Dalloway and Ulysses that take place during a single day. McEwan intricately weaves characters and themes towards an eloquent and wrenching finale, and the beauty of his prose propels the plot with poetic momentum. Saturday is a gentle, brilliant, and inspiring work.

"Staff Pick" by ,

This startling novel examines one very bad day in the life of a smart, happy surgeon. Henry's life looks very different from morning to night in this remarkable character study. McEwan is a genius!

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In the predawn sky on a Saturday morning, London neurosurgeon Henry Perowne sees a plane with a wing afire streaking toward Heathrow. His first thought is terrorism — especially since this is the day of a public demonstration against the pending Iraq war. Eventually, danger to Perowne and his family will come from another source, but the plane, like the balloon in the first scene of Enduring Love, turns out to be a harbinger of a world forever changed. Meanwhile, the reader follows Perowne through his day, mainly via an interior monologue. His cerebral peregrination records, in turn, the meticulous details of brain surgery, a car accident followed by a confrontation with a hoodlum, a far-from-routine squash game, a visit to Perowne's mother in a nursing home and a family reunion. It is during the latter event, at the end of the day, that the ominous pall that has hovered over the narrative explodes into violence, and Perowne's sense that the world has become 'a commuity of anxiety' plays out in suspense, delusion, heroism and reconciliation. The tension throughout the novel between science (Perowne's surgery) and art (his daughter is a poet; his son a musician) culminates in a synthesis of the two, and a grave, hopeful, meaningful, transcendent ending. If this novel is not as complex a work as McEwan's bestselling Atonement, it is nonetheless a wise and poignant portrait of the way we live now." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "The man who could staunchly write, as the southern extremity of Manhattan was still awash in fire and stench, that in effect Amor vincit omnia here lucidly shows us that civilization and culture and the life of the mind, fragile as they seemingly are, nonetheless have a resilience that can outlast barbarism." (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
"Review A Day" by , "There is no secret as to why Ian McEwan has gained such a large, intelligent and devoted readership. In book after book, and now, especially in Saturday, he has gone directly against the grain of fashionable contemporary cynicism and proved that a novel can be topical without being either obvious or dogmatic, that a writer can derive aesthetic sense from confronting the world's concerns." (read the entire Salon.com review)
"Review A Day" by , "The imagination is blessed by its holder, just as the humanities humanize only those who are willing to be humanized. Ian McEwan's imagination is worth cherishing; Mohammed Atta's is not. It is just this tension that surfaces in his fine and affecting new novel, and which is never quite resolved." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "An increasingly mellowed but no less gripping McEwan....A sort of middle-class humanist manifesto: when you find yourself fortunate beyond all measure in a random universe, gratitude, generosity, and compassion are a decent response."
"Review" by , "Mr. McEwan has not only produced one of the most powerful pieces of post-9/11 fiction yet published, but also fulfilled that very primal mission of the novel: to show how we — a privileged few of us, anyway — live today."
"Review" by , "Saturday is a tightly wound tour de force of several strands — a Hitchcockian thriller, an allegory of the post-9/11 world, the portrait of a very attractive family, and a meditation on the fragility of life and all that we most value."
"Review" by , "Few literary events are today met with as much enthusiasm as the publication of a McEwan novel. Saturday, a brilliant and graceful hymn to the contented contemporary man, will be greeted with cheers." Anita Shreve
"Review" by , "Saturday lives up to its own standards throughout. Its author's scrupulous application of his talent merits real gratitude from its readers. Saturday is distinguished by an intense literary imagination that is fundamentally scientific in its vision and its criteria." Marek Kohn
"Review" by , "One of the most oblique but also most serious contributions to the post-9/11, post-Iraq war literature, [Saturday] succeeds in ridiculing on every page the view of its hero that fiction is useless to the modern world."
"Synopsis" by , 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

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