Amsterdam

Narrated by: Steven Crossley
Length: 4 hrs and 42 mins
4 out of 5 stars (113 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 1998

The best-selling author of Atonement and Enduring Love, Ian McEwan is known as one of contemporary fiction’s most acclaimed writers. This Booker Prize-winning novel by McEwan finds two men connecting at the funeral of their ex-lover. Distressed by how she was slowly destroyed by an illness, the two make a pact to save each other from enduring such a fate.

©1998 Ian McEwan (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Make something, and die.

"There really wasn't much else to do. Make something, and die."
- Ian McEwan, Amsterdam

It won the Booker, but wasn't my favorite Ian McEwan. Similar to 'The Children Act' in its use of classical music (one of the main characters is a classical composer), it is almost too clean, too moralizing, too easily tied up. But really, those are my only major complaints. I found it fascinating at parts and love love love it when Ian McEwan writes fiction about composing or music.

There are a few writers I've read recently who do a fantastic job of incorporating classical music into their stories. I'm thinking of William Gass and 'Middle C', Julian Barnes and 'The Noise of Time', Richard Powers and 'Orfeo', William T. Vollmann also gets a nod with parts of 'Europe Central'. Anyway, I love it. It reminds me of reading DFW when he is riffing on Tennis or Pynchon when he is riffing on physics. There are certain realities that a great prose stylist can almost lift off the page. For me, McEwan's writing about music in this book is what keeps it at four stars and doesn't drop it to three.

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Like watching a slow motion train wreck.

Over the years I've come to love Ian McEwan for his eloquence and story craft. But this book belongs in the category of manuscripts published because publishers needed a filler from a noteworthy name. If this had been published posthumously, and Ian had never had a chance to finish it, and perhaps it was revealed this was a first draft he'd dreamed up one summer, then the book may be forgivable. As it stands, this book is so bad it made me angry at what the publishing industry has become. I've read finer books from self-published authors who take their craft more seriously than Ian who, judging by this book, relies too much on his notoriety.
This is an excellent study in how NOT to craft a story. I'm going to make this mandatory reading in all my creative writing courses the same way the Army shows the graphic, deleterious results of untreated STI to new recruits so they are deathly afraid of unsafe sexual practices.
Having said all that, the writing itself is fantastic. Ian is a true master of prose and this book is no exception. This is why it is like a slow motion train wreck, but one that was carefully choreographed and rendered through CGI. One simply can't help but watch it in awe and wonderment regardless of the traumatic impact to the psyche.