Amsterdam

Amsterdam - I swear I tried to read Atonement. I did. I got to page 30 something and (1) figured out the whole plot, including the ending and (2) wanted everyone to die because the Germans dropped a bomb on the house.I couldn't figure out why people loved it. I almost didn't pick up this because of it. Luckily for me(but not for Mr. McEwan because I got this copy for free), a friend told me that this was a good book.She was right.It is a rather depressing yet funny, yet dark book. It reminds me on one level of Blackadder, and one another level of those dark, wicked movies. You know the ones that are two steps away from being disturbing, but are hilarious. You know, like Black Sheep about the sheep that eat people. It was just the right level of stupidity to be a good movie.The comparison is very unfair to McEwan because Amsterdam is so many cuts above Black Sheep that I probably shouldn't use them in the same sentence.Amsterdam starts with a death of a woman who the reader never really meets, except though the memories of those she left behind. Her death sets into a motion a rather strange series of events that result in something happening in the title city. (I'm not going to spoil it for you). At the center of the story are four men: the spouse of the dead woman (George), and three ex-lovers (Clive, Vernon, and Julian).I think George is a wonderfully written character. People like him exist. What McEwan examines is the possible disintegration of a friendship as well as career. Julian's wife is a brilliant character, and the sequence that describes her fighting for her husband's political career and Vernon's response to it are an interesting comment on politics and the press. The ending is not easily foreseeable, but fits the characters. In fact, very few of the characters are likable. I found it interesting that the characters we know the least about Molly and Julian's wife, are the ones that are shown in the best light.McEwan, at least here, doesn't have the rich tone and use of language that say A.S. Byatt or Michael Chabon. There is a starkness in McEwan's tone and almost restrained sense of humor that exists in the style. There is a harsh bark of laughter that accompanies the end of the book.I didn't like Atonement; however, I enjoyed this book greatly.