All about it being the typical novel of a much-published author – too tricksy for its own good, and proving a point rather than being the best book McEwan could write.
In truth the twisty tricksiness is at once the best and worst thing about it – it provides a peak of interest and excitement in an otherwise slightly boring read – but it’s because of the trick itself that McEwan has (purposely, we must imagine knowing his other work) made it a slightly boring read in the first place. My post wrangled back and forth over this paradox, but I’ll save you 600 words and come to the point: is it ever worth it, in fiction, to prioritise the message and theme over and above the reading experience? McEwan reckons yes. I disagree. If they don’t work in harmony, you should be using another medium, my friend (as I imagine myself saying to McEwan in a worldly-wise, kindly manner.)
There’s a place in this world for all kinds of fiction, and I appreciated Sweet Tooth’s twist and its implications as much as the next reader. But for my money McEwan pushed it too far.*
This curt post was brought to you courtesy of a bad Monday at work. Shortening posts since 2012.
* You should know that if I ever did meet McEwan, I’d probably simper and ask him to sign my face.