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le 14 septembre 2012
Read Susan Hill's 2008 novella "The Venetian Mask", describes a newly-married couple that loses its way in Venice with fatal consequences for the bridegroom. Her book celebrated the mystery of Venice throughout, but was it scary?

Read Ian McEwan's 2nd novel (1981) and shiver! It deals with Mary and Colin on a weeks-long holiday in Venice. They have been a LAT-couple for 7 years, but are here and now inert, silent, unable to plan ahead or their daily lives: forgetting their city map, they lose their way every day. Written in a more languid voice than Susan Hill's, it is far more intrusive. Readers want to get a quick grip on a story, but McEwan does not allow this.

Divorced Mary has 2 children who stay with their dad in a UK commune. She acted in a now defunct woman's collective. Colin tried singing, then acting, no more about him or who paid the holiday, except that he looks cute. In my view, the couple is doomed from page 1. They do not act like normal tourists and fall prey to black-clad Robert, a guide, then owner of a basement gay bar with a jukebox emitting blue light. It blasts out again and again the same pumping, shrieking, sentimental song whose refrain of "Ha, ha, ha" is sung along loudly by the black-clad cruisers. Shortened by one `ha' for copyright reasons(?), the refrain and song must be the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive", a worldwide disco hit. And another clue about death foretold McEwan planted in his tale.

Read on to see how the trustful couple falls for the charms and fictions of Robert and his handicapped wife Caroline. It ends badly for the male hero (?) Colin, as in Susan Hill's book. Deep book that ends in blood and drama. Brr. On several counts, I rate McEwan's early story higher than Susan Hill's. Both books are rich in ideas and should be read more than once.
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le 1 novembre 2010
Though I like McEwan, I found this book lacking the expected debt. Short, with plenty of irrelevant "leads" and a rather banal ending, it leaves one sorry to have spent time on it.
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