Although Adam’s faith drives the plot, it goes oddly unexplored. McEwan seems to have little interest in Jehovah’s Witnesses, and apart from their prohibition against blood transfusions we are told very little about what they believe and almost nothing about their history. This is peculiar, because McEwan is usually one of the most inquisitive of novelists. For previous books about neurosurgeons or physicists or posh girls during World War II, he so intensely studied his characters’ worlds that he was able to write about them seemingly from the inside. Yet Adam’s beliefs never seem particular, as though he could be representing any stubborn believer.
Last week, I pointed readers to a Page-Turner essay by Amy Bloom, whose new novel,Lucky Us, came out on Tuesday. Now, as part of the By the Book series in the Times, she talksabout her summertime reads, her first picture book and who she’d invite to a literary dinner party. (FYI, we’ve written about the series before.)
“Werner isn’t surprised to pass the entrance exams easily. He’s more nonplused to find his head measured with calipers and his hair whiter than any of the 60-odd shades of blond on the examiners’ charts. It goes without saying that his eyes are also rated for their shade of blue.” Janet Maslin reviews Anthony Doerr’s new novel.
Is there anything distinctive or unusual about your work space? Besides the obvious, what do you keep on your desk? What is the view from your favorite work space?
I work, by choice, in a hideous unfurnished basement “office” not far from the washer-drier. The walls are unpainted concrete. There’s a window above the desk that admits ground-level light. Sometimes a neighborhood cat, a calico, wanders by and peers in. The office itself is dismal, contiguous dusty crowded surfaces piled with slumping hills of books, file folders, the whole of it thoroughly disorganized. I’m always searching for a “document” I can’t find. Visitors are appalled, but I like it. Also, it’s poorly insulated. I’m content to freeze in winter and broil in summer. Physical discomfort concentrates the mind.
An interview with Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times Book Review