Monday, June 27, 2005

Saturday, on Monday

Another incident from Ian McEwan's new novel, Saturday. Again, Henry Perowne's daughter is trying to get her neurosurgeon father to read something besides medical books. This time she is urging upon him the so-called "magical realists," the likes of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Mario Vargas Llosa, I suppose, who grant their characters supernatural powers and out-of-this-world experiences.

McIwan writes: "A man who attempts to ease the miseries of failing minds by repairing brains is bound to respect the material world, its limits, and what it can sustain -- consciousness, no less...If that's worthy of awe, it also deserves curiosity; the actual, not the magical, should be the challenge. [His daughter's] reading list persuaded Perowne that the supernatural was the recourse of an insufficient imagination, a dereliction of duty, a childish evasion of the difficulties and the wonders of the real, of the demanding re-enactment of the plausible."

"When anything can happen, nothing much matters," says Perowne to his daughter. To which I would add "Amen."

Of course, his daughter has the last word, as daughter's do. "You ninny," she chides. "It's literature, not physics.!"