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Amsterdam
 
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Amsterdam [Format Kindle]

Ian McEwan
3.6 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (9 commentaires client)

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Amazon.com

When good-time, fortysomething Molly Lane dies of an unspecified degenerative illness, her many friends and numerous lovers are led to think about their own mortality. Vernon Halliday, editor of the upmarket newspaper the Judge, persuades his old friend Clive Linley, a self-indulgent composer of some reputation, to enter into a euthanasia pact with him. Should either of them be stricken with such an illness, the other will bring about his death. From this point onward we are in little doubt as to Amsterdam's outcome--it's only a matter of who will kill whom. In the meantime, compromising photographs of Molly's most distinguished lover, foreign secretary Julian Garmony, have found their way into the hands of the press, and as rumors circulate he teeters on the edge of disgrace. However, this is McEwan, so it is no surprise to find that the rather unsavory Garmony comes out on top. Ian McEwan is master of the writer's craft, and while this is the sort of novel that wins prizes, his characters remain curiously soulless amidst the twists and turns of plot. --Lisa Jardine

Extrait

Two former lovers of Molly Lane stood waiting outside the crematorium chapel with their backs to the February chill.  It had all been said before, but they said it again.

"She never knew what hit her." "When she did it was too late." "Rapid onset." "Poor Molly." "Mmm."

Poor Molly.  It began with a tingling in her arm as she raised it outside the Dorchester Grill to stop a cab--a sensation that never went away.  Within weeks she was fumbling for the names of things.  Parliament, chemistry, propeller she could forgive herself, but less so bed, cream, mirror.  It was after the temporary disappearance of acanthus and bresaiola that she sought medical advice, expecting reassurance.  Instead, she was sent for tests and, in a sense, never returned.  How quickly feisty Molly became the sickroom prisoner of her morose, possessive husband, George.  Molly, restaurant critic, gorgeous wit, and photographer, the daring gardener, who had been loved by the foreign secretary and could still turn a perfect cartwheel at the age of forty-six.  The speed of her descent into madness and pain became a matter of common gossip: the loss of control of bodily function and with it all sense of humor, and then the tailing off into vagueness interspersed with episodes of ineffectual violence and muffled shrieking.

It was the sight now of George emerging from the chapel that caused Molly's lovers to move off farther up the weedy gravel path.  They wandered into an arrangement of oval rose beds marked by a sign, THE GARDEN OF REMEMBRANCE.  Each plant had been savagely cut back to within a few inches of the frozen ground, a practice Molly used to deplore.  The patch of lawn was strewn with flattened cigarette butts, for this was a place where people came to stand about and wait for the funeral party ahead of theirs to clear the building.  As they strolled up and down, the two old friends resumed the conversation they had had in various forms a half-dozen times before but that gave them rather more comfort than singing "Pilgrim."

Clive Linley had known Molly first, back when they were students in '68 and lived together in a chaotic, shifting household in the Vale of Health.

"A terrible way to go."

He watched his own vaporized breath float off into the gray air.  The temperature in central London was said to be twelve degrees today.  Twelve.  There was something seriously wrong with the world for which neither God nor his absence could be blamed.  Man's first disobedience, the Fall, a falling figure, an oboe, nine notes, ten notes.  Clive had the gift of perfect pitch and heard them descending from the G.  There was no need to write them down.

He continued, "I mean, to die that way, with no awareness, like an animal.  To be reduced, humiliated, before she could make arrangements, or even say goodbye.  It crept up on her, and then .  .  ."

He shrugged.  They came to the end of the trampled lawn, turned, and walked back.

"She would have killed herself rather than end up like that," Vernon Halliday said.  He had lived with her for a year in Paris in '74, when he had his first job with Reuters and Molly did something or other for Vogue.

"Brain-dead and in George's clutches," Clive said.

George, the sad, rich publisher who doted on her and whom, to everyone's surprise, she had not left, though she always treated him badly.  They looked now to where he stood outside the door, receiving commiseration from a group of mourners.  Her death had raised him from general contempt.  He appeared to have grown an inch or two, his back had straightened, his voice had deepened, a new dignity had narrowed his pleading, greedy eyes.  Refusing to consign her to a home, he had cared for her with his own hands.  More to the point, in the early days, when people still wanted to see her, he vetted her visitors.  Clive and Vernon were strictly rationed because they were considered to make her excitable and, afterward, depressed about her condition.  Another key male, the foreign secretary, was also unwelcome.  People began to mutter; there were muted references in a couple of gossip columns.  And then it no longer mattered, because the word was she was horribly not herself; people didn't want to go and see her and were glad that George was there to prevent them.  Clive and Vernon, however, continued to enjoy loathing him.

As they turned about again, the phone in Vernon's pocket rang.  He excused himself and stepped aside, leaving his friend to proceed alone.  Clive drew his overcoat about him and slowed his pace.  There must be over two hundred in the black-suited crowd outside the crematorium now.  Soon it would seem rude not to go over and say something to George.  He got her finally, when she couldn't recognize her own face in the mirror.  He could do nothing about her affairs, but in the end she was entirely his.  Clive was losing the sensation in his feet, and as he stamped them the rhythm gave him back the ten-note falling figure, ritardando, a cor anglais, and rising softly against it, contrapuntally, cellos in mirror image.  Her face in it.  The end.  All he wanted now was the warmth, the silence of his studio, the piano, the unfinished score, and to reach the end.  He heard Vernon say in parting, "Fine.  Rewrite the standfirst and run it on page four.  I'll be there in a couple of hours." Then he said to Clive, "Bloody Israelis.  We ought to wander over."

"I suppose so."

But instead they took another turn about the lawn, for they were there, after all, to bury Molly.

With a visible effort of concentration, Vernon resisted the anxieties of his office.  "She was a lovely girl.  Remember the snooker table?"

In 1978 a group of friends rented a large house in Scotland for Christmas.  Molly and the man she was going about with at the time, a QC named Brady, staged an Adam and Eve tableau on a disused snooker table, he in his Y-fronts, she in bra and panties, a cue rest for a snake and a red ball for an apple.  The story handed down, however, the one that had appeared in an obituary and was remembered that way even by some who were present, was that Molly "danced naked on Christmas Eve on a snooker table in a Scottish castle."

"A lovely girl," Clive repeated.

She had looked right at him when she pretended to bite the apple, and smiled raunchily through her chomping, with one hand on a jutting hip, like a music hall parody of a tart.  He thought it was a signal, the way she held his gaze, and sure enough, they were back together that April.  She moved into the studio in South Kensington and stayed through the summer.  This was about the time her restaurant column was taking off, when she went on television to denounce the Michelin guide as the "kitsch of cuisine." It was also the time of his own first break, the Orchestral Variations at the Festival Hall.  Second time round.  She probably hadn't changed, but he had.  Ten years on, he'd learned enough to let her teach him something.  He'd always been of the hammer-and-tongs school.  She taught him sexual stealth, the occasional necessity of stillness.  Lie still, like this, look at me, really look at me.  We're a time bomb.  He was almost thirty, by today's standards a late developer.  When she found a place of her own and packed her bags, he asked her to marry him.  She kissed him, and quoted in his ear, He married a woman to stop her getting away/Now she's there all day.  She was right, for when she went he was happier than ever to be alone and wrote the Three Autumn Songs in less than a month.

"Did you ever learn anything from her?" Clive asked suddenly.

In the mid-eighties Vernon too had had a second bite, on holiday on an estate in Umbria.  Then he was Rome correspondent for the paper he now edited, and a married man.

"I can never remember sex," he said after a pause.

"I'm sure it was brilliant.  But I do remember her teaching me all about porcini, picking them, cooking them."

Clive assumed this was an evasion and decided against any confidences of his own.  He looked toward the chapel entrance.  They would have to go across.  He surprised himself by saying rather savagely, "You know, I should have married her.  When she started to go under, I would have killed her with a pillow or something and saved her from everyone's pity."

Vernon was laughing as he steered his friend away from the Garden of Remembrance.  "Easily said.  I can just see you writing exercise yard anthems for the cons, like what's-her-name, the suffragette."

"Ethel Smyth.  I'd do a damn better job than she did."

The friends of Molly who made up the funeral gathering would have preferred not to be at a crematorium, but George had made it clear there was to be no memorial service.  He didn't want to hear these three former lovers publicly comparing notes from the pulpits of St.  Martin's or St.  James's, or exchanging glances while he made his own speech.  As Clive and Vernon approached they heard the familiar gabble of a cockt...

From Publishers Weekly

As swift as a lethal bullet and as timely as current headlines, McEwan's Booker Prize-winning novel is a mordantly clever?but ultimately too clever for its own good?exploration of ethical issues. Two longtime friends meet at the cremation of the woman they shared, beautiful restaurant critic and photographer Molly Lane. Clive Linley, a celebrated composer, and Vernon Halliday, the editor of a financially troubled London tabloid, could never understand Molly's third liaison?with conservative Foreign Secretary Julian Garmony, who is angling to be prime minister, or her marriage to dour but rich publisher George Lane. Mourning the manner of Molly's agonizing death, which left her mad and helpless at the end, each man pledges to dispatch the other by euthanasia should he be similarly afflicted. Immediately afterwards, both Clive and Vernon are enmeshed in a crisis: Clive must finish his commissioned Millennium Symphony so it can premiere in Amsterdam, and Vernon must grapple with the moral issue of publishing photos of Julian Garmony in drag that George has discovered with Molly's effects. The clash between whether the demands of pure art are more valid than political accountability and financial solvency soon assumes a larger dimension that turns Clive and Vernon into bitter enemies and inspires each of them to seek revenge by the same means. McEwan spins these plot developments with smooth alacrity and with acidulous wit, especially focused on the way shallow and mediocre people can occupy positions of power and esteem: "In his profession, Vernon was revered as a nonentity." His ability to sculpt a scene with such arresting visual detail that it assumes a physical dimension for the reader (most memorably in the opening of Enduring Love but also evident here as Clive observes a woman being accosted by a rapist, and as Vernon watches a TV interview that signals the end of his career) are undiminished. But when, in the last third of the book, McEwan manipulates the plot to achieve a less than credible symmetry, it is obvious that, despite the Booker recognition, this is far from McEwan's best novel. That said, however, it will undoubtedly hit the bestseller charts, for McEwan, even when not quite at the top of his form, is a writer of compelling gifts. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Funerals are dreary enough affairs, but Molly's is particularly unpleasant; her former lovers hover like vultures, ready to tear one another apart. Thanks to Molly?or rather to Molly's stuffy husband, made fun of by everyone but slick enough to get the last laugh?self-absorbed newspaper editor Vernon is about to get some scandalous goods on foreign secretary Julian Garmony, an evil family-rights type. But friend Clive, a composer of impeccable tastes, disgustedly thinks that Vernon is taking adavantage of Molly's memory, and Vernon is equally disgusted that Clive was so wrapped up with the final movement of his symphony that he failed to intervene in a potential rape. Their conflict proves quite literally fatal. McEwan has written a tastily vicious tale in his usual polished prose, but this time he risks too much and goes over the top. The whole affair seems a bit one-note and mean-spirited, and the maccabre ending in Amsterdam is not persuasive. This won the Booker Prize, which helps explain why the pub date was pushed up from February to November, but McEwan's last one, Enduring Love (LJ 2/1/98), was a better, more textured book. [Preveiwed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/98.]?Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal.
-?Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani

[In Amsterdam] are the simple pleasures of reading a writer in complete command of his craft, a writer who has managed to toss off this minor entertainment with such authority and aplomb that it has won him the recognition he has so long deserved.

The Washington Post Book World, Michael Dirda

Though McEwan addresses several serious themes--in particular, the conflict between personal desire and public responsibility--his ingenious conte cruel possesses the lightness of touch and split-second plotting of an operetta.... There is no huffing and puffing, no waste, no mess. Every sentence carries the fugue-like plot forward to the final catastrophe.

From AudioFile

Maxwell Caulfield has precisely the English voice and superb control needed to perform this gem of a novel. Ian McEwan writes for the ear, so this reading is a powerful aural experience, as well as an intellectual and emotional one. Funny, nasty and sad, the book won the 1998 Booker Prize; it's easy to see and hear why. The story opens at the funeral of Molly Lane, the sexy young journalist who slept with the newspaper editor; the famous composer; the foreign secretary; and even sometimes with the dour, ill-at-ease but immensely rich publisher to whom she was married. This is a short book, but her sudden, meaningless death will not be the last. B.H.C. An AudioFile Earphones Award winner. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine

Kirkus Reviews

Winner of this years Booker Prize, McEwans latest (Black Dogs, 1992; Enduring Love, 1998) is a smartly written tale that devolves slowly into tricks and soapy vapors. When she dies of a sudden, rapidly degenerative illness, London glamour photogra pher Molly Lane is married to rich British publisher George Lane, although numerous erstwhile lovers still live and stir in the controversial Mollys wake. These high- visibility figures include internationally famed composer Clive Linley, racing now to co mplete his overdue magnum opus, a new symphony for the millennium; his close friend Vernon Halliday, the liberal, ambitious, idealistic editor of a London newspaper thats struggling hard to keep its readership; and right-winger Thatcherite Julian Garmony, now Britains foreign secretary. The daily lives of these three high-profilersthough mostly of Clive and Vernon, who receive the main focusare nothing if not interesting in the capable hands of McEwan, who shows himself more than plentifully knowledgeable in the details of journalism and music, describing with a Masterpiece Theater color and exactness the torments of composition and the rigors of keeping a big newspaper in business. The machinery of plot gradually takes over, though, when George finds, in Mollys left-behind things, three wildly incriminating sex-photos of the foreign secretaryand makes them available to Vernon Halliday, for whom the idea of bringing down the conservative Garmony (whos considering a run for PM) by publishing the pictures i s irresistible. This plan of massive public humiliation, however, offends Clive Linley, who thinks of it as a deep betrayal of the dead Molly, and bitterness rises like a serpent in the Clive-Vernon friendship, hardly put to rest when Vernon learns of som ething morally dubious that Clives just doneand that could, in fact, be made a nifty tool of revenge. And so things progress via trick, counter-trick, and backfire, in a novelistic try for a big ending that just gets littler instead. Middle-brow fiction B ritish style, strong on the surface, vapid at the center. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Revue de presse

Winner of the Booker Prize


"A dark tour de force, perfectly fashioned."
--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A well-oiled machine....Ruthless and amusing."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Beautifully spare prose, wicked observation, and dark comic brio."
--The Boston Globe

"At once far-reaching and tightly self-contained, a fin de siécle phantasmagoria."
--New York

"Ian McEwan has proven himself to be one of Britain's most distinct voices and one of its most versatile talents....Chilling and darkly comic."
--Chicago Tribune

"By far his best work to date...an energizing tightrope between feeling and lack of feeling, between humanity's capacity to support and save and its equally ubiquitous penchant for detachment and cruelty."
--The San Diego Union-Tribune

"You won't find a more enjoyable novel...masterfully wrought, sure to delight a reader with even half a sense of humor." --The Atlant Journal-Constitution

"McEwan writes the sort of witty repartee and scathing retort we wished we thought of in the heat of battle. On a broader scale, McEwan's portrayal of the mutually parasitic relationship between politicians and journalists is as damning as it is comic." --The Christian Science Monitor

Présentation de l'éditeur

On a chilly February day two old friends meet in the throng outside a crematorium to pay their last respects to Molly Lane. Both Clive Linley and Vernon Halliday had been Molly's lovers in the days before they reached their current eminence, Clive as Britain's most successful modern composer, Vernon as editor of the quality broadsheet, The Judge.Gorgeous, feisty Molly had had other lovers too, notably Julian Garmony, Foreign Secretary, a notorious right-winger tipped to be the next prime minister.



In the days that follow Molly's funeral Clive and Vernon will make a pact that will have consequences neither has foreseen. Each will make a disastrous moral decision, their friendship will be tested to its limits and Julian Garmony will be fighting for his political life.



WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE

Review

Winner of the Booker Prize


"A dark tour de force, perfectly fashioned."
--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A well-oiled machine....Ruthless and amusing."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Beautifully spare prose, wicked observation, and dark comic brio."
--The Boston Globe

"At once far-reaching and tightly self-contained, a fin de siécle phantasmagoria."
--New York

"Ian McEwan has proven himself to be one of Britain's most distinct voices and one of its most versatile talents....Chilling and darkly comic."
--Chicago Tribune

"By far his best work to date...an energizing tightrope between feeling and lack of feeling, between humanity's capacity to support and save and its equally ubiquitous penchant for detachment and cruelty."
--The San Diego Union-Tribune

"You won't find a more enjoyable novel...masterfully wrought, sure to delight a reader with even half a sense of humor." --The Atlant Journal-Constitution

"McEwan writes the sort of witty repartee and scathing retort we wished we thought of in the heat of battle. On a broader scale, McEwan's portrayal of the mutually parasitic relationship between politicians and journalists is as damning as it is comic." --The Christian Science Monitor


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Book Description

Winner of the 1998 Booker Prize  ¸  A National and International Bestseller A Globe and Mail Notable Book of 1998.

On a chilly February day two old friends meet in the throng outside a crematorium to pay their last respects to Molly Lane. Both Clive Linley and Vernon Halliday had been Molly's lovers in the days before they reached their current eminence - Clive as Britain's most successful modern composer, Vernon as editor of the broadsheet The Judge. But gorgeous, feisty Molly had other lovers too, notably Julian Garmony, the Foreign Secretary, a notorious right-winger poised to be the next prime minister. What happens in the aftermath of her funeral has a profound and shocking effect on all her lovers' lives, and erupts in the most purely enjoyable fiction Ian McEwan has ever written.

Ingram Synopsis

Meeting outside a crematorium to honor the recently deceased woman who had been their lover, composer Clive Linley and newspaper editor Vernon Halliday make a pact that will have long-lasting political implications. Reprint. NYT.

Back Cover copy

Winner of the 1998 Booker Prize

"Amsterdam is a pitiless study of the darker aspects of male psychology, of male paranoia, emotional frigidity, sexual jealousy, professional rivalry and performance anxiety....Despite the darkness of the themes, or perhaps because of them, Amsterdam is extremely funny in a black sort of way....Ghoulishly compelling."
--Alain de Botton, Independent on Sunday

Biographie de l'auteur

Ian McEwan is the bestselling author of more than ten books, including the novels The Comfort of Strangers and Black Dogs, both shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Amsterdam, winner of the Booker Prize, and The Child in Time, winner of the Whitbread Award, as well as the story collections First Love, Last Rites, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, and In Between the Sheets. He has also written screenplays, plays, television scripts, a children’s book, and the libretto for an oratorio. He lives in London.

About the author

Barry Lopez is one of North America's foremost naturalists and writers. He is the author of Arctic Dreams, Of Wolves and Men, and several works of fiction, including Crow and Weasel and River Notes. His essays, articles and short stories appear regularly in Harper's, North American Review, National Geographic, and elsewhere. His awards include the National Book Award and the Lannan Literary Award in Nonfiction, among others. He lives in Oregon.


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