This book should be read in one day - which I haven't done. It covers one day in the life of Henry Perowne, a successful neurosurgeon in London, from the moment he watches from the window of his apartment in Fizrovia an airplane falling down till the next day when after so many events, emotional and factual, he returns from the same window and fell asleep.
The story has several time layers which alternates first slowly and more intensively after the day advances. It is the personal pace interferring with the rhythm of the street and the overwhelming history of now, made by the news. The chaotic succession stole the present. We are either in the past trying to understand through it the present or in the future, when the present is just and interstice for another something we are not very clear what does it mean.
For Perowne, there are two escapes against the power of absence from the present: either the medical intervention or the love making with his wife - 'Sex is a different medium, reflecting time and sense, a biological hyperspace as remote from conscious existence as dreams, or as water is from air'. On the other end of the story, there is his mother, a victim of Alzheimer, living in a lost world in her own time.
We life intense lives, either when we are just smoothly passing from a minute to the other. Especially in big cities, we are connected to world events and encounters. Personal violence is as unexpected as the world violence. It is a spasmotic world whose sense escapes us very often. Focus on th moment can be a solution, but for many of us, this moment is not ours either.
As right now I am interested about how to integrate the political and social events into the everyday life I appreciate the art of playing with the two time registers - personal and general. We cannot escape what is going on in the world and the influence of these events on our humble lives. We are driven into it by the TV, political activitists or by a huge mass protest taking place in town during which you cannot move freely.
As usual in McEwan books, words are pedantly feeling the gaps and you live the reality through them. This is how, in fact, I had discovered him many years ago, through the diamond-polished short stories shared in print by a writer-in-the making friend.
This is one of the few books I would probably read again one day or that will hunt me a bit more than usual because it makes you think. It is why we read, isn't it?