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The Cement Garden
#1
THE CEMENT GARDEN


by Ian McEwan

There can be nothing but praise for how Ian McEwan writes: in his short stories (First Love, Last Rites, 1975) and in this new novella, he glories in the secret of how uninflected, almost unbearably lean, plain prose can grip, can scream without a single exclamation point. 

With father gone and mother taking to her bed, the children--Jack, older Julie, younger Sue, little Tom--tussle for power, for each other's affection, and for attention from their mother, who has tired of doctors and one day quietly dies in bed. As in so many similar stories, the children fear being separated and so bury mother in the cellar, surrounding her with wet cement left over from father's weird concrete project. Now parentless, the house fills with debris and the children deteroriate: Julie attracts a pool-shark beau; Sue drifts off into reveries about mother;

Tom wants to be a girl (his sisters approve and dress him up); Jack becomes obsessed with a science-fiction novel, a gutted nearby hi-rise, and masturbation. Only Jack and Julie's ultimate sexual coming-together--which, seen by the furious boyfriend, brings on the end of the children's closed-off world--seems staged for effect. And, most impressive of all, this grim little tale is somehow suffused with light and warmth. Having worked such wonders with such intrinsically stunted material, McEwan calls attention to his undeniable talent. If he and his characters can stretch to measure up to that prose, we may be watching a major novelist in the making.






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#2
I love this film. The boy in a skirt also gets to wear a nice dress and sleeps in a crib. I shall watch it again tonight I think.
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