Monday, December 15, 2008

On Chesil Beach

by Ian McEwan
There are moments in one's life that seem to be the fulcrum on which everything before and after is balanced. Of course, these moments aren't often noticeable unless something went badly, something that seems, in retrospect, the beginning of the end. In On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan has created this sort of moment for a young English couple on their wedding night, circa 1962. There is true love between them, and each is certain about the other. But they're on the brink of one of these fulcrums in their lives, and McEwan divides his time between close-ups of this very private night, and zoomed-out looks at the life stories of these two, how they came to be here, how they chose each other. And, after, McEwan follows the long-term results. It's a brief but powerful glimpse of two human lives, how they crash and reverberate backwards and forwards in time. Beautiful.

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