I've just finished two Ian McEwan novels, and I'm onto a third (Saturday). And yet I'm so deterred because they will all end the same. There will be a love story between two people so tragically flawed, so helplessly human. Then add the catalyst of some some mistaken identity or perception of what is not there, and voila! our star-crossed lovers are subjected to an untimely death, or a life of mediocracy, or worst of all, the sting of self-righteous martyrdom.
And I'll finish the last page, and cry, and wonder why Mr. McEwan can't write something that makes me believe that there is good in the world and that having loved at all is better than love lost. Why, Mr. McEwan? Why find the sorest nerve and prod it? Is it to counter all those pharmacy paperback love novels, so idealistic in their romances? Let the hardened lawyer have her coffeeshop poet. And let them die old together in their bed, like that scene from Titanic, while the world comes flooding in.
Like Maroon 5 says, "It's not always rainbows and butterflies. It's compromise that moves us along" and I get it. There will be heartbreak and there will be blood. And there will be pages tear spattered. This I know. But I would rejoice if ever Mr. McEwan followed this up with (again in the words of Maroon 5) "My heart is full and my door's always open. You can come any time you want." Can you leave the door open rather than nailing it shut like a coffin? Will you do it for me?
"On Chesil Beach" by Ian McEwan:
"When he thought of her, it rather amazed him, that he had let that girl with her violin go. Now, of course, he saw that her self-effacing proposal was quite irrelevant. All she had needed was the certainty of his love, and his reassurance that there was no hurry when a lifetime lay ahead of them. Love and patience- if only he had had them both at once- would surely have seen them both through. And when what unborn children might have had their chances, what young girl with a headband might have become his loved familiar? This is how the entire course of a life can be changed- by doing nothing. On Chesil Beach he could have called out to Florence, he could have gone after her. He did not know, or would not have cared to know, that as she ran away from him, certain in her distress that she was about to lose him, she had never loved him more, or more hopelessly, and that the sound of his voice would have been a deliverance, and she would have turned back. Instead, he stood in cold and righteous silence in the summer's dusk, watching her hurry along the shore, the sound of her difficult progress lost to the breaking of small waves, until she was a blurred, receding point against the immense straight road of shingle gleaming in the pallid light."