First Love, Last Rites
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First Love, Last Rites

By (author) Ian McEwan

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Taut, brooding and densely atmospheric, these stories show us the ways in which murder can arise out of boredom, perversity can result from adolescent curiosity, and sheer evil might be the solution to unbearable loneliness.

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  • Paperback | 208 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 14mm | 160g
  • 13 Jun 2000
  • VINTAGE
  • London
  • English
  • Special edition
  • 40th Anniversary Edition
  • 1
  • 0099754819
  • 9780099754817
  • 32,665

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Author Information

Ian McEwan is the author of two collections of stories and twelve previous novels, including Enduring Love, Amsterdam, for which he won the Booker Prize in 1998, Atonement and, most recently, Solar.

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Review quote

"Marks the debut of a talented and genuinely imaginative writer" -- Julian Barnes New Statesman "As promising a first collection of stories as I have ever come across" Vogue "Ian McEwan writes to shock and succeeds... It is a tour-de-force of concision, and funny, too, in a deadpan manner" -- Gabriele Annan Times Literary Supplement "And now for a brand new writer of formidable talent, Ian McEwan who is 27. His stories First Love, Last Rites...are the most devastating debut I have seen for a long time" -- Peter Lewis Daily Mail "A brilliant debut by the most promising writer around" -- A. Alvarez Observer Books of the Year

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Review text

McEwan is a young Englishman whose first collection of short stories (five have appeared in little magazines) has been compared to Dahl and Collier. There are no elements of fine drawn invention and surprise here - only too literally does he manage to soil his hands. Most of them feature a nameless narrator of perverse preoccupations - like the one who graduates from whiskey, pot and masturbation but bypasses the prospect of Zulu Lulu for "Homemade" first sex with his kid sister. Little girls are never safe in McEwan's world: take the one who is promised a vista of "Butterflies" on a promenade down the path by a canal before she is assaulted and later drowns. There's the infantile retrograde in "Conversations with a Cupboard Man" who is finally sent packing by the mother who kept him that way to find a sanctuary in his attic room womb; there's another fatal accident in "Last Day of Summer"; a problem of "Solid Geometry" - the cleverest of the lot - you may not quite solve; the title story which reduces to the killing of a rat who has been scrabbling behind a wall of books; and finally the drag malice of "Disguises." Provocation of a sort, but is it really justified by such an overwhelming fetor? (Kirkus Reviews)

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