What I’m Reading | Joan Gencarelli
President of American Pen Women, Hawai`i
Q&A with Christine Thomas May 4, 2008, Honolulu Advertiser
–What are you reading?
“Atonement” by Ian McEwan. I wanted to read the book after I saw the movie, because while the movie starts out as a love story destroyed by an overly imaginative eleven-year-old, almost half of the film was devoted to scenes from WWII, and focused on basically one character and the young sister who destroyed the lives of two people. The ending was surprising and to me split the movie into three distinct parts. I wanted to see how true the screenwriters had been to the original book. They were faithful, and made minor changes to the ending, which actually worked well.
–What do you like most about it?
I am enthralled that a grown man [McEwan] can create a young woman—her thoughts, her actions, that are so much in character, and the visual images he creates, the tension that I felt physically, the surprise ending—though I felt a bit cheated there, as if he wrapped it up a bit too soon.
–So you didn’t want it to end?
Not that I didn’t want it to end, and the ending was clever, but McEwan was so much into detail throughout the book that I felt he rushed through the ending, and I found it anti-climactic. It was rather as if Hercule Piorot were to go straight to the guilty without putting all present as suspects. Before the final dramatic ending.
–How does experiencing McEwan’s ability to enter another’s point of view so thoroughly help you think of new ways to reach and inspire the many different creative Pen Women members?
His writing style inspires me to think of ways to present exercises to my writing groups who are stuck on point-of-view. His overall talent inspires me personally to reach beyond what I would normally do and take chances—be bolder, push my own boundaries.
I did not see the movie but I did read the book when it first came out. I'm a big fan of Ian McEwan. My reactions were much the same as your, which you stated so well.