Read Black Dogs by Ian McEwan Online

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Set in late 1980s Europe at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Black Dogs is the intimate story of the crumbling of a marriage, as witnessed by an outsider. Jeremy is the son-in-law of Bernard and June Tremaine, whose union and estrangement began almost simultaneously. Seeking to comprehend how their deep love could be defeated by ideological differences Bernard andSet in late 1980s Europe at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Black Dogs is the intimate story of the crumbling of a marriage, as witnessed by an outsider. Jeremy is the son-in-law of Bernard and June Tremaine, whose union and estrangement began almost simultaneously. Seeking to comprehend how their deep love could be defeated by ideological differences Bernard and June cannot reconcile, Jeremy undertakes writing June's memoirs, only to be led back again and again to one terrifying encouner forty years earlier--a moment that, for June, was as devastating and irreversible in its consequences as the changes sweeping Europe in Jeremy's own time. In a finely crafted, compelling examination of evil and grace, Ian McEwan weaves the sinister reality of civiliation's darkest moods--its black dogs--with the tensions that both create love and destroy it....

Title : Black Dogs
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780330326353
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Black Dogs Reviews

  • Lisa
    2019-03-23 23:49

    I have read many Ian McEwans, and I am always divided whether I like them or not. There is a witty analysis of contemporary life that appeals to me, put into occasionally brilliant prose. There are characters with interesting traits, and plots that usually have an abrupt twist in the end.It uses to be an entertaining and quick reading experience between heavier, more thought-provoking and more linguistically challenging (and satisfying) classics or historical nonfiction.But this was below par, even considering my moderate expectations. It makes the impression that the author wanted to answer the ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, but without the humorous focus of Douglas Adams, and without the number 42 guiding him through the maze of geopolitical and historical issues that haunt humankind. He touches on the problems of disillusionment of old communists, but drops it before gaining the power of a Koestler, then moves on to the kind of communist reflection Lessing offers in The Golden Notebook, interweaving the political with personal, intimate relationships, but again without elaborating and giving the characters depth.There is a tedious discourse between two characters regarding religion versus atheism, without offering any new angle or solution, of course. “You are in separate realms”, is the solution offered by the protagonist-narrator, not very helpful, as the characters are still presiding over their different world view realms in the same room, and it is “going round and round”.Throw in short reflections on the Berlin Wall, and the Holocaust, and sex and family life in the 1980s, and being an orphan and turning into a cuckoo in other people’s families, and you are far away from the supposed main theme (according to the title) of depression: Black Dogs.“So June´s idea was that if one dog was a personal depression, two dogs were a kind of cultural depression, civilisation´s worst moods.” It is a typically short McEwan novel, and all these diverse topics are too important to be mentioned en passant, while the characters randomly discuss different anecdotes from their respective pasts.Too much and too little, at the same time, which the narrator seems to subconsciously understand while he is struggling to keep the story together:“I am uncertain whether our civilisation at this turn of the millennium is cursed by too much or too little belief, whether people like Bernard and June cause the trouble, or people like me.” Unfortunately, the narrator can’t make the arithmetic mean between the extreme positions work out either, as the ideas are in different realms… If you take a couple of apples and pears, add them together, and then divide them by two, you do not get a perfect pearapple, but rather a mash, which is what this book is to me.In the realm of my literary universe, this one sank to the bottom of the ocean.

  • Cecily
    2019-04-21 05:43

    Very disappointing, and yet not a dreadful book either (I've read five other McEwan's, all 4* or 5*).Remembering The narrator is preparing the memoirs of his dying mother-in-law. He particularly wants details of a terrifying encounter with black dogs more than 40 years ago that changed the direction of her life, and therefore that of her husband and children.Jeremy describes his own childhood, contrasting it with that of his wife, and tells of trips to the care home to talk to his mother-in-law, recounting snippets of her life. As the book progressed, I became increasingly annoyed about this big secret and heavy-handed metaphor that would, presumably, be revealed at the end, thinking it would probably be an anticlimax. And it was.TruthOther than that, the main theme is honesty - to oneself and to others. June and Bernard (Jeremy's parents-in-law) joined the Communist party at the end of the war. For me, the most effective passages were those that looked at how people twist or ignore the truth to maintain their faith in something, and the tensions between scientific rationalism and more instinctive spiritual aspects. McEwan points out that "Laboratory work teaches you better than anything how easy it is to bend a result to fit a theory", acknowledging that "rationalism is blind faith". Jean and Bernard were very different, except "their capacity, their appetite, for belief never diminished", though not necessarily in the same things. I was also stunned and delighted at the idea of "The Socialist Cycling Club of Amersham". It's a very hilly area with a notable shortage of socialists!Repeating Down the GenerationsPerhaps related to that, Jeremy is very conscious of one generation repeating the faults of a previous one, though he sometimes uses that as a convenient excuse. For example, almost losing touch with a young relative because "I could not bear to undergo another parting from X. The thought that I was inflicting on her the very loss I had suffered myself intensified my loneliness".The elephant in the room is the titular black dog!Depression is never really addressed, which is odd, given the title: the book even mentions that "the black dog" was how Churchill personified his depressive episodes.Seductive WritingThere are snippets where McEwan's perceptive writing shines though; it's the book as a whole that doesn't work for me. To end with the good writing:* "The companionable love-making that is the privilege and compromise of married life."* A terminally ill person was "buried in a sleep that had itself been smothered in an illness" so on waking, "she had to reconstruct her whole existence, who and where she was."* The liturgy at a funeral was "a succession of brilliant phrases, book titles, dying cadences that breathed life, pure alertness, along the spine".* An unhappy family entering a restaurant was "a luminous envelope of familial intensity".

  • Adam
    2019-04-20 23:47

    I don't understand how anyone could dislike this. It's basically a novel about ideologies and philosophies and how they apply to human beings, not about them in general, and McEwan's prose is so precise and fabulous that reading this whole thing, a book where barely anything actually happens except for near the end, was incredibly involving and fascinating. The characters feel like genuine people, there is no political condescension or sloganeering, just thoughtful human debate. I'm also constantly amazed that Ian McEwan is a widely respected, 'serious' author who very often ends his stories with twists or major revelations which make us reconsider what comes before. Even a clever twist in genre fiction usually feels slightly cheap, but McEwan is so graceful with his writing that it damn near always works. "Black Dogs" is a strange combination of the early McEwan and the later McEwan, not that the two are ultimately separated by more than the author's age and the benefit of hindsight. An incredibly affecting and intelligent novel.

  • Edward
    2019-04-03 04:32

    Black Dogs was not as bad as I had expected, based on the reviews, but it does have a lot of problems. The novel tackles diverse themes, which intersect in interesting ways, though they arise in ad hoc rather than deliberate ways, and their treatment is not sufficiently meaningful. The encounter at the heart of Black Dogs is compelling, and raises some interesting ideas about human nature, and the tension between idealism and the reality of the darker sides of humanity. But the explanation is left somewhat vague, and the encounter is awarded implications in the characters’ lives that are too significant and far-reaching. McEwan attempts to create a mystery around the event, which, while helping to drive the narrative, falls flat in the reveal.McEwan has a tendency to both make too much of too little, and to bite off more than he can chew. Black Dogs could have worked better as either a short story about the central incident itself, or a longer exploration of the many ideas it attempts to tackle (though I’m not sure McEwan could have written the latter novel). Instead, he attacks some untenable middle ground. He seems to take a single kernel of a good idea, and fill in a story around it, adding characters and descriptions of histories and motivations, but all of it feels like mere scaffolding for the central event. The story itself and the characters lack a certain complexity and reality. The events of the novel do not arise naturally from the characters, but are driven by contrivance towards the inevitable “event”, which is something imposed externally. McEwan intends for his characters to work through the implications of what has occurred, and for this discourse to make up the bulk of the novel. However the characters he has constructed are themselves not compelling. Despite having been given an abundance of personal history, they still feel flat and generalised. Their dialogue is shallow, and never properly explores the heart of the matter. Much of what is unearthed in Black Dogs remains not only unresolved, but in fact unexplored.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-03-28 03:31

    I want to love Ian McEwan based on Zadie Smith’s (hilarious) interview with him in the Believer book of Writers on Writing. Maybe Black Dogs wasn’t the place to start. It was interesting to see his life work paralleled against Roth’s in the New York Review of Books (Al Alvarez, July 19 2007), suggesting that McEwan, like Roth, came of age as a writer at a moment when sexuality had to be busted out and that he, like Roth, was in the vanguard of this. I was expecting something more original in his style (like Roth’s), but came away with an impression of someone who got embraced by the lit establishment at a particular moment in time because of the above and also because his understated simple prose fit in with the aesthetics of the Ford-Carver-Tobias Wolfe school (of which I am a fan). Black Dogs felt flat and carpentered to me, though. I was also drawn to it because of it treats mystical material (the black dogs as a sort-of-literal metaphor for evil), and because the book explicitly juxtaposes character against historical/political context (the fall of the Berlin wall) in keeping with the calls for relevant social realism by Tom Wolfe and Franzen and others, which I agree with. In the end the book felt to me like a lot of building blocks stacked near each other but never adding up to a beautiful house.

  • Will
    2019-04-18 03:55

    A beautifully written novella but hollow in the centre, and leaving me dissatisfied at the end. It essentially revolves around a biography that the “author” Jeremy wants to write about his in-laws, June and Bernard. (To understand why they are so important to Jeremy, you need to read the introduction which is actually part of the novella itself and not, as I first thought, an autobiographical note on the real author’s life. Nice one, Ian).June and Bernard get married just after WW2 but on their honeymoon in France, June has a traumatic experience with two black dogs. This event becomes a defining moment in their lives that marks a gradual separation, with June regarding it in mystical and religious terms, while Bernard remained a rationalist. June retreated to France a few years after the attack, to write and paint and live a hermit’s life, while Bernard remained in London and became something of a media personality.In an effort to understand what happened, Jeremy followed both of their lives closely, and returns to the black dog scene four times: in conversations with June and with Bernard, again on his own and in a final chapter where more details of the event are revealed.What I found unsatisfactory was this: why would the attack be such a defining moment and lead to a separation for over 40 years, even though June and Bernard remained in love? It isn’t explored, and we learn little about the rest of their lives, except for two current episodes: Jeremy visits June in her nursing home shortly before her death, and Jeremy accompanies Bernard to Europe at the time the Berlin Wall is coming down. That’s about it. If it had been a real autobiography then you could understand the gap, and such is the power of McEwan’s writing that I tended to forget that it wasn’t. But the attack is so obviously an allegory about good and evil that when the details are finally revealed, it is – well not quite an anticlimax, because it is horrible – but, there’s nothing to follow:“June told me that throughout her life she sometimes used to see them ... running down the path into the Gorge of the Vis, the bigger one trailing blood on the white stones ... fading as they move into the foothills of the mountains from where they will return to haunt us, somewhere in Europe, in another time.”

  • AC
    2019-04-12 02:48

    I quite liked this -- like it much more, in fact, than the reviews of my GR friends led me to expect I would. It is richly packed with ideas and character into what is almost only a novella in length, and I found the ending to be particularly strong and well prepared by what had gone before. The book is not flawless, there are technical weaknesses early on -- that is, the craftsmanship sometimes shows -- and there are passages where the 'debate' becomes a bit ham-handed..., but the fundamental insight into the nature of evil and its implications is haunting and effecively conveyed. This is a very good book, and while it is easy to dismiss McEwan as Lit-lite (and there may be some truth in that), the few hours it takes to read this story were not wasted.

  • Friederike Knabe
    2019-04-12 07:55

    "Ever since I lost mine in a road accident when I was eight, I have had my eye on other people's parents..." Jeremy, first person narrator in Ian McEwan's BLACK DOGS, finds what he is searching for in the parents of his wife Jenny, June and Bernard Tremaine. Placing the exploration of his in-laws' complicated relationship over five decades at the story's core around which the philosophical, spiritual and moral themes are continually gyrating, McEwan masterfully dissects the private sphere within and against the context of political developments in post-war Europe.Jeremy, having agreed to assist the now ailing June to write her memoir, attempts to reach beyond her version of memories, by talking, in parallel to Bernard. For a better understanding of his own relationships, he needs to lead the couple back to the root-cause for their estrangement that has torn them apart, despite the strong emotional ties that have kept them, at times painfully, connected. McEwan's narration moves fluidly back and forth between the present discussions between June and Jeremy and the various pertinent timelines, going back to 1946 and the couple's honeymoon in a remote region of southern France. The black dogs of the title, introduced early on in the "Preface", reappear persistently throughout whether in June's dreams or in her recalling their appearance that so frightened her back then. While the actual circumstances are only revealed at the end of the book, in June's mind the dogs have evolved into something much more fundamental for her: a symbol of Menace and Evil that she has to counteract spiritually as best as she can.There is much in this brief novel to capture the attention and imagination of the reader. The evocation of June's sense of happiness and fearful foreboding set against the beautiful, yet menacing barren landscape, is exquisite. McEwan convincingly contrasts June's and Bernard's opposing characters that the deep ties cannot mediate. "...a silly occultist and [...]a fish-eyed commissar.." is June's apt definition. Jeremy is a sensitively depicted, pleasant enough character who "is found by love" in his late thirties. However, several aspects of the book jarred for me and reduced the full engagement with the story and the characters. For example, the Preface reveals much important context beyond Jeremy, his relation to his wife and family and the events that led June and Bernard to move their lives into different directions: it already touches upon the core issues of the novel that might have had more impact on me were they to unfold slowly over the course of the narration. Furthermore, the novel's structure into four distinct Parts, deliberately disrupts the main narrative flows. While these on the one hand allowing for a deeper exploration of specific time periods and political events, for example, the Fall of the Berlin Wall, they seem, on the other, to skew the balance of importance that these events might have for the essence of the novel. Within the selection of these expansive semi-autonomous sub-stories we find some less than probable and/or extreme circumstances that are in danger of reducing the authenticity of other aspects of the novel and, for this reader, affect the overall enjoyment of the book. Without revealing any story details, nothing more can be said about these here. However, the issue of balance between primary story and semi-autonomous sub-story becomes more prominent in later McEwan novels, for example Atonement: A Novel.

  • AnaVlădescu
    2019-03-25 01:48

    The introduction to this book blew me away. It sometimes so happens that I start reading a book without really thinking about it. For the first 5, 10 pages, I don't take it "seriously", if you will. I think it's sort of a professional flaw, after reading so many books, I know from the very first one or two pages, how many more I can afford to not attentively read. Usually, that happens when you don't have too many characters and so there are not many introductions to be made. When I read something that has a preface, maybe written by the author, like Stephen King does on a lot of his books, maybe by a critic, it's even worse. I don't mean to say I don't pay attention, it's just I don't get into it. I read it cooly, calmly, without any emotion for the story whatsoever. The reason I'm writing now this whole thing is because with Black Dogs, it was completely different. The preface, written by the author but through his main character and completely connected to the story, hit me after about 20 rows in the first page. This is only on a personal level, and I know that it won't be the same for anyone else - I'm just stating an opinion here.I related to the first 5, 6 pages in the most painful and eye-opening way. Few books do that to me. And I feel really good knowing there are/were authors out there that know how to write with the purpose of touching someone's mind or heart, not just their wallet.

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-04-07 00:33

    He tries to meditate upon profound themes in a short span of 174 pages and he ends up being tiresomely symbolic and a real windbag too :"But the next day, and the day after, and on all the succeeding days, they never set foot in the metaphorical landscape of their future. The next day they turned back. They never descended the Gorge de Vis and walked by the mysterious raised canal that disappears into the rock, never crossed the river by the medieval bridge or climbed up to cross the Causse de Blandas and wander among the prehistoric menhirs, cromlechs and dolmens scattered in the wilderness, never began the long ascent of the Cevennes towards Florac. The next day they began their separate journeys."or"They lifted the glasses and cups so that she could spread out a white tablecloth and set down two bottles of vin de pays, glasses, a basket of bread, a bowl of olives and a handful of cutlery. Out in the vineyards, beyond the shady terasse, the cicadas intensified their hot dry sound. Now time, afternoon time, which in the Midi is as elemental as air and light, expanded and rolled billowingly outwards across the rest of the day, and upwards to the vaults of the cobalt sky, freeing everyone in its delicious sprawl from their obligations."I mean, that's just crap isn't it.

  • Mark
    2019-03-30 06:52

    This was a really something and nothing book. I read it a few months ago and normally even confused or disjointed novels look clearer to me from a distance. Rather like seeing a landscape with a fuller perspective and you can catch the beauty of the overall effect, the roll of the hills, the gathering of the woodland, the undulations of the streams which you miss if you are too close. It is only when you step out of the immediacy of the thing that you see its meaning, its purpose.This hasn't happened here. It just has not gelled for me, the lack of fluidity in and of itself is not the problem, though it has a jarring effect. No, rather is it the fact that I am not sure what I am supposed to be taking from the relationships, not sure who or what I am supposed to be focusing on. I do not mean that I want spoon fed literature but I just want something which either hangs together and means something or doesn't and doesn't. In my opinion, I am not sure if McEwan really knows which it is supposed to be either.Maybe I have just wholly misunderstood and a few more metaphorical leagues travelled will have me browing another line of hills and then I shall look back and it will all fall into place but at the moment......nope.....sorry.

  • Aric Cushing
    2019-03-22 06:45

    I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this. An incredibly satisfying quick read, accumulating in the powerful image (both symbolically and literally) for the narrator's mother-in-law at the end of the novel, which is the title of the book. I was also shocked to find a few people didn't like it. This book is part memoir, part fiction, and at the same time an examination of explosions of violence.

  • Bob Mustin
    2019-04-03 03:54

    I still find it odd that some (if not most) people will never re-read a book. I've just re-read this one because it was my first McEwan and I was so unfamiliar with his odd story structure that the essence of the book didn’t stay with me. But that was something like ten years ago. I like to think I’ve grown as both reader and writer in that time, so I knew the book would speak volumes to me now. It does. But given that you might not have read it, a little something about the storyline. English couple June and Bernard Tremaine are former Communists who have married immediately following WWII, Jenny their daughter, who subsequently marries the story’s narrator, Jeremy. By the time Jeremy and Jenny marry, the parents are separated, and Jeremy is fascinated with both, who use their son-in-law as a conduit to one another. By now both have forsaken communism, Bernard for something of a secular humanist approach to life, June immersed in spiritual practices. The book's - and Jeremy’s - project is to discover the nature of their growing apart, presumably as a tool of understanding to prevent something similar from happening to Jenny and him. On the way to such understanding, Jeremy unearths the singular moment of the older couple’s division, an event occurring in France’s Midi, involving a pair of black dogs.McEwan weaves his story back and forth in time and centers it on the heady days of the fall of the Berlin Wall. McEwan’s - and Jeremy’s - tone here is one of reasoned detachment, but that does little to erase the mystery of June’s experience with these black dogs, an event the Bernard didn’t witness and wishes to rationalize away. Here the author personalizes the eternal conflict between human experience and humanity’s fascination with what might lie beyond such experience. It’s a skillful, tastefully told tale, measured as perhaps only McEwan can do today in giving us literary insight. My rating: 19 of 20 stars

  • Marco Tamborrino
    2019-04-20 07:36

    Domani mi sarò già dimenticato di cosa parla.

  • Claire
    2019-03-21 04:43

    This is far from the best novel by Ian McEwan. But even in a less novel, I think he still merits 4 stars. As allways the writing is clear, elegant and compelling. The reason I felt it was less than some other books, was the overflow of themes and subjects. The book sometimes gives the impression of a story meandering on while touching difficult ideas, yet not taking the time to really dig into them.Essentially it is about how people sometimes love eachother very much and yet do not (want to?) understand the other and are unable to build a life together. About how people remember things in a very different way and the illusions of the past we all have.

  • Susan
    2019-03-29 01:33

    : I have always been somewhat suspicious of Ian McEwan. I first read Amsterdam which I disliked intensely since it was obvious to me what would happen very early in the novel and I didn’t particularly enjoy seeing it work out just as I predicted. Since then I’ve read a good chunk of his fiction and I’ve had this complaint: that he comes off as a more-than-usually-sophisticated thriller writer who focuses on the intrusion of gratuitous violence into the lives of the characters and watches how they deal with it.Recently I read On Chesil Beach which I saw as very well put together and moving away from the usual formula (to which he returned, disappointingly in Saturday after attempting much more in Atonement) in that there was no physical violence and the dramatic plot development where the lovers separate on their wedding night never to see each other again grew out of their own psychology; it was not a crisis imposed from without.Then I went back and read Black Dogs (published in 1992) and found it not nearly as “accomplished” especially in writing style as any of his last three, but not “just a sophisticated thriller” either. The narrator’s parents were killed in an accident when he was 8 and he grows up in the chaotic and unsupportive home of his elder sister. He makes a habit of interacting with the parents of his friends even as his friends rebel against them. Then he marries Jenny Tremaine and takes over the relationship with her parents, June and Bernard. As the novel starts, June and Bernard are elderly and the narrator, Jeremy, is interviewing June for a memoir he plans to write. The couple—both lapsed Communists—have lived their lives mostly apart, not because they don’t love each other, but because they disagree ideologically, June believing in both good and evil and in the possibility of unseen powers while Bernard remains the complete scientist/rationalist. Jeremy focuses on their philosophical differences and wonders if he’s better or worse because he has no philosophical passions.June lived most of her life in a bergerie in France where she sought a spiritual life while Bernard was an active scientist, writer, journalist and politician in England. The event that marked their irreconcilable difference occurred on their honeymoon in France when June, wandering ahead of Bernard who stopped to examine an unusual caterpillar, encountered two large and vicious black dogs and during the confrontation experienced what seemed to her absolute evil (in the black dogs) as well as a visitation (evidenced by an unusual light event) from God who allowed her to survive.The novel is set against the background of WWII. The “black dogs”, who turn out, appropriately, to be remnants of those trained by the Nazis during the occupation, are what separate June and Bernard. Bernard is proud that she defended herself with a knife and survived; June is sure she was allowed to survive in order to explore the spirituality inherent in human life. June believes in good and evil; Bernard believes in the infinite perfectibility of humans. Jeremy starts out feeling superior to both of them because he has no beliefs.

  • Matthew
    2019-03-25 05:41

    Another McEwan book about people who love each other but somehow fail to stay together. A theme he does well.Here the people who love each other begin their marriage as idealists, British communists with ambitions to change the world. The husband remains political, dedicated to various causes even after he abandons communism. The wife has an experience with black dogs on her honeymoon, which sends her on a quest for spiritual truth. The black dogs and other scenes of danger add an unexpected element of horror. The complexity of the couple's diverging beliefs is believable and saddening. I enjoy theological arguments, while some are irritated to be bothered with even the idea of theology. So I enjoyed seeing these two mindsets given intelligent voices to debate with in this book - in the form of phantoms in their son-in-law's head.It all makes for a surpising mix. A little romance, a little horror, political intrigue, theology. But I'm not surprised McEwan could fit it all in such a small book.

  • Simona
    2019-03-26 00:43

    Dopo ormai 3 libri letti ("Espiazione", "Bambini del tempo", "Miele", anche se l'ho amato in misura minore rispetto ai precedenti), posso dire che con McEwan è ormai amore puro. Lo stesso amore che, purtroppo, non ha potuto provare Jeremy, che, in seguito alla morte dei genitori avvenuta quando aveva solo otto anni, cerca quell'amore vero e naturale che esiste tra una madre e un figlio e che alla fine troverà nelle figure di June e Bernard, i suoceri della moglie Jenny. In un viaggio che si snoda tra Wiltshire, Berlino durante gli anni della caduta del Muro e St. Maurice de Navacelles, McEwan racconta con meraviglia, stupore, coinvolgimento la storia di June e Bernard, ma anche i due modi diversi di vivere la vita: quello più spirituale e asceta di lei e quello pragmatico, concreto, razionale di lui, dando l'ennesima grande prova del suo talento facendo emozionare e riflettere.

  • Dina Goluza
    2019-03-24 02:41

    "Zlo o kome govorim živi u svima nama. Uzme maha u pojedincu, u ličnim životima, unutar porodice, i upravo deca najviše pate. I onda, kada su uslovi povoljni, u različitim zemljama, u različitim vremenima, užasno surovo bukne zloba protiv života, i svi su iznenađeni dubinom mržnje u sebi. Onda potone i čeka. To je nešto u našem srcu."

  • Kirsten
    2019-03-31 04:54

    This is quite possibly the longest 174-page book I have ever read. Really! I am not joking.It is well written with excellent characters... however, it is slow and even harder going for me than an Iris Murdoch novel. I do like Atonement by the same author, but I can only give this one 3 stars..The story could have been much more engaging. In a way, it's like a Kate Morton story without the heart.

  • Karen
    2019-04-09 05:33

    The narrator of Black Dogs, Jeremy lost his parents at 8 years old, latches onto his friends' parents, then his wife's. The story takes place during the Berlin Wall, November 1989. Jeremy is fascinated by his Wife's parents and their unusual relationship: they love one another, but are unable to live together. Their extreme ideologies make it difficult to live together. This is another McEwan that I really liked

  • Ella
    2019-04-03 04:35

    Sai che i libri ti lasciano un segno solo quando giri l'ultima pagina e ti rendi conto che già senti la mancanza dei personaggi che hai incontrato.

  • Ginny_1807
    2019-04-18 04:58

    Attraverso l’inconciliabile conflitto ideologico che distrugge l’unione ma non il reciproco amore di Bernard e June Tremaine, l’autore mette in campo l’eterna dicotomia tra fede e ragione, tra vita attiva e vita contemplativa, tra materialismo e spiritualità. Il romanzo è molto intenso e si presta a chiavi di lettura diverse e personalizzate. A tratti appare un po’ artificioso nell’espediente di collegare alle vicende personali dei protagonisti il maggior numero possibile di eventi storici; a tratti, forse, anche un po’ freddo, nella messa in scena di personaggi stilizzati, più icone idealizzate dalla memoria che persone suscettibili delle evoluzioni proprie della vita reale; tuttavia sono innegabili il valore suggestivo e il pregio letterario di certe pagine, da includere a mio avviso tra le più belle che siano mai state scritte. In particolare l’esordio del libro, in cui Jeremy, il narratore, ritrae la sua solitaria adolescenza di orfano in cerca di supplire al vuoto lasciato dai propri genitori con la frequentazione dei genitori altrui; o i passaggi in cui rievoca il legame con la nipotina Sally, sola come e più di lui in quanto vittima di una violenza familiare strisciante e segreta; o l’incontro con Jenny Tremaine, divenuta sua moglie e madre dei suoi figli, che paradossalmente, con quei genitori separati e in guerra tra loro, gli offre anche il conforto dell’unione familiare che aveva sempre desiderato. Magnifico pure il capitolo finale, nel quale si ricompone il quadro fino a quel punto soltanto abbozzato per stralci di ricordi spesso discordanti tra loro e si tirano le fila degli eventi esplicativi. Qui la grandiosa immagine dei Cani Neri esplode e dilaga nella nostra mente in tutta la sua oscena imponenza, seminandovi sgomento e interrogativi inquietanti. Qual è dunque la strada da scegliere “tra la ragione e la spiritualità, tra la politica e lo yoga, tra chi è convinto e chi si astiene, tra la scienza e l'intuizione”? Jeremy dichiara di non riconoscersi in nessuna delle due posizioni o, meglio, di riconoscere le ragioni di entrambe, senza tuttavia riuscire a schierarsi totalmente né per l’una, né per l’altra. Tuttavia, il terrificante incontro con i “cani neri” nella vicenda particolare di June, ma anche, in senso simbolico, nell’esistenza di ciascun essere umano e nella Storia, indica chiaramente l'esistenza del Male, della crudeltà, della violenza, della depravazione e dell'odio. Ognuno di noi si porta dentro questo orribile potenziale, che nessuna teoria sociale è in grado di spiegare. Perciò è solo operando su se stesso al fine di moderare e spegnere questo impulso con la forza dell'amore che l'essere umano potrà sperare di garantirsi la felicità e la pace con gli altri. Soltanto sperare, non averne la certezza. Ma è ai cani neri che ritorno con maggiore frequenza. Mi turba il pensiero che devo loro tanta felicità, soprattutto se mi lascio andare a considerarli non come semplici animali, ma come bestie allegoriche, incarnazioni dello spirito. June mi diceva che per tutta la vita, ogni tanto tornava a vederli: la loro immagine si depositava sulla sua retina nella breve vertigine che precede il sonno. Corrono lungo il sentiero della Gorge de Vis, e il più grosso dei due lascia una scia di sangue sulle pietre bianche. Attraversano la linea d'ombra e sprofondano in una tenebra mai raggiunta dal sole [...] Poi, quando il sonno ha la meglio, si allontanano, come macchie nere sul grigio dell'alba, e svaniscono procedendo verso la montagna dalla quale ritorneranno a tormentarci in qualche angolo d'Europa, chissà quale, chissà quando.

  • Nicola
    2019-04-04 01:57

    Short, quite interesting. Doesn't really stand out in any major way.Perhaps the same thing can be said about this review?Oh alright! The books Black Dogs are hinted at being physical manifestations of humanities capability for evil. One of the characters in this book confronts these two horrible beasts during an idyllic walk through the French countryside. Although through the use of cunning and violence she manages to drive them away, the experience affects her deeply and changes her life outlook and her relationship to her partner in ways not quite understood at the time.Ian McEwan is a good writer and this is a good book. But it doesn't stand out in any major way :-).

  • Edwin Priest
    2019-04-06 06:52

    Black Dogs is a complex and deep tale in which McEwan explores relationships, marriage and love, all the while craftily blending it into a Europe recovering from WWII. There is darkness and beauty, and love and evil, all melded in a dense but melodic and hard to penetrate package. 3-1/2 stars, rounded down to 3 because it just didn't seem to compel me.

  • Chris
    2019-03-30 23:38

    I found a used library hardcover of this at Half-Price Books about three months ago - I have a thing about hardcovers, so I had to buy it, although I was not initially terribly excited by the synopsis. I'm a pretty avid fan of Ian McEwan; since I readThe Cement Garden, I've really become enamored of his writing style. It's very intimate while still maintaining a narrative distance and certain coldness that I very much appreciate. However, since readingAmsterdam andOn Cheshil Beach I've become more and more irritated by his abrupt plot changes and poorly concluded story lines.Thus, my lack of hurry in reading this.Still, I was actually very pleased by the building of relationships in the novel - there's a semi-transparency to time and chronology that I really liked. I admit to not much liking the newer experimentations with time line that so many authors and filmmakers are attempting these days - I really enjoy a story that can address the past, present, and, if necessary, future of a character without being pretentious about it. No one is going to write anotherSlaughterhouse Five, and while I applaud creative divergence from the typical three to five act based storyline, ripping off the whole 'unstuck in time' idea is overdone. Anyway, as I said, the relationships are what really stood out for me. I can obviously relate to dysfunctional families and unhealthy relationships, which the novel has in abundance, but it was the small things that seemed very familiar to my own life and family that made it all so real to me: the drinking and drug abuse of the narrator's sister and brother-in-law, the sexual deviance, the yearning for a functional family and intelligent parents who care, and etc. The novel absolutely succeeds in these regards.Given that the main thematic (or two) of the novel is/are relationships (and love), I wasn't terribly enamored of the novel's title - the black dogs really have very little to do with the story itself, and (spoiler ahead) I fucking hated McEwan's usage of the SS and rape within the plot. It felt contrived to me, and completely out of place - it had a brutality that was shocking, disgusting, and entirely inappropriate to it's place in the story. I got the impression that the author had been doing some kind of casual reading, came across something that made him go 'WOW!' and he wrote a short story about it. Short story well and good, but Christ, completely out of context in the novel.Generally, the novel was quite good and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I read it from cover to back in a single four hour session (and yes, I am a slow reader), so I can't say that my displeasure at certain elements is really all that substantial, I can't say that I'm angry I invested any time in the read, etc. On the contrary, it was a very good read. However, the poor title and the pivotal encounter just were not at all compelling to me or important to me.I think that this is probably the last Ian McEwan I'll be reading, as I've had too many nitpicks and gripes about the last three. I'm always frustrated and let-down by the conclusions, and I think I should probably take that as a clue.

  • NocturnalBlaze
    2019-04-10 02:40

    Un racconto lungo sulle dinamiche di un matrimonio complesso, un rapporto a due che nasce su una base comune d'attrazione e di fede politica, ma che si disgrega dopo un'esperienza toccante, che allontana completamente le visioni di marito e moglie, incapaci di rimanere insieme, ma anche di separarsi definitivamente. Il tutto viene osservato dall'occhio attento del genero, orfano fin da bambino, che trova nell'interesse verso i genitori della moglie una sorta di surrogato affettivo alla sua mancanza, un modo per riempire il vuoto che ha sempre sentito.Pur avendo trovato interessante la narrazione, ho fatto piuttosto fatica ad entrare nel suo ritmo: specialmente all'inizio, non capivo bene dove la storia volesse andare a parare, gli spunti che vengono dati sono molteplici e solo dopo un buon numero di pagine si capisce che quella che verrà raccontata non è la storia della voce narrante, ma quella dei genitori di sua moglie. Per questo motivo, mi sono sentita inizialmente disconnessa dalla narrazione, entrando nel mood giusto per godere dello stile e delle vicende solamente ad un punto piuttosto avanzato del libro, quando ho iniziato a capire quale sarebbe stato il tema, l'analisi portata avanti. Indubbiamente la parte che ho preferito è stata quella finale, quella che va a spiegare tutti gli spunti che vengono lanciati durante la storia, quando la voce narrante tira le fila del rapporto fra i suoi suoceri, spiegando chiaramente cosa è successo il fatidico giorno in cui si sono allontanati, prendendo strade differenti, coerentemente con il loro opposto approccio alla vita, lei con una ritrovata spiritualità in una masseria in Francia, lui come concreto e razionale analista politico e sociale in Inghilterra, separati ma pur sempre uniti dal loro passato comune. Ammetto che, pur amando l'autore, questo non sia stato il mio McEwan preferito, complice l'inizio lento, un po' decentrato rispetto alla vicenda principale, una debolezza nella rappresentazione della voce narrante ed in alcuni punti del racconto. Compensa, però, una parte finale ricca di emozione e d'impatto, altamente evocativa, uno stile che rimane impeccabile e godibile, una riflessione attenta su tematiche come la spiritualità, la coerenza e la fedeltà ai propri principi, le dinamiche difficoltose dei rapporti amorosi. Non il miglior libro che ho letto di questo autore, dunque, ma comunque toccante, particolare, interessante, meritevole di una lettura.

  • Vít
    2019-04-16 01:59

    Po Pokání a Betonové zahradě pro mě Černí psi znamenali docela zklamání. McEwan psát umí, ale prostě mě to nezaujalo, ani postavy mi k srdci nepřirostly a podruhé tuhle knížku číst určitě nebudu.

  • AngryGreyCat
    2019-04-14 01:51

    I picked up Black Dogs at a used book store and was happy to find an Ian McEwan book there. Obviously very well written although transparent in places, this is not my favorite of his, but it was still very good. This is an outsider’s, if you consider a son-in-law as an outsider, view of a marriage enmeshed in philosophical differences. Jeremy is Bernard and June’s son-in-law and he appears more concerned with and interested in them, particularly June, than their biological children. Jeremy has been searching for replacement parental figures ever since losing his at a young age. He undertakes writing June’s memoirs in an effort to understand her and what went wrong with her marriage.The characterization of June and Bernard as idea driven people provided a great counterpoint to Jeremy as a relationship driven person. Jeremy had been through one of the most traumatic events that a young person can face, loss of parents and then chronic instability. He then revisited this event on his sister’s child in an act of self-preservation. June and Bernard had their illusions and ideas shattered and it seemed to impact them almost as severely. It is interesting that I found it easy to feel sympathy for and root for Jeremy, but I really didn’t connect with Bernard and June. Good short read, however I prefered On Chesil Beach to this

  • Maggie
    2019-04-01 01:32

    Would be 3.5 stars if possible. I forgot how well he writes. Even if I usually find him/his characters pretentious and unrelatable. There were those moments in this book as well, but I resonated too closely and personally with the classic Rational vs Spiriutal, Good vs Evil, White vs Black - vs Gray inner conflicts of the soul. What do we really really wish for - what "should be" , versus what really is, and how we reconcile the two. I like how McEwan's protagonist/storytelling device, Jeremy, does acknowledge that these arguments are somewhat irrelevant and artificially constructed, because there doesn't have to be an inherent conflict between the two (or three). Loved the part where June and Bernard argued on his shoulders. I like how Jeremy's personal story and background is woven in naturally, how his abandonment as a child has affected him as a adult.I do think McEwan leans towards June's account of Life/Purpose/Meaning. Which is comforting. But of course, Bernard would argue that comfort does not lend any credence to a belief or make it a fact, and in actuality belies a bias that works against its favor. Fuck this philosophically mindfuddling no-answers-anywhere shit. Ok, I'm ok with my three-star review now.