Showing posts from August, 2019

Machines Like Me

Ian McEwan writes about human dramas involving love and violence with force majeure, and Machines like Me does not let the McEwan reader down. Published in the year after the bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, McEwan’s narrator, thirty-two year old Charlie – has a background in anthropology and an interest in electronics. His girlfriend, Miranda, is writing a PhD on the Corn Laws – a subtle connection to Shelley’s context. More directly, although not the inventor/creator of Adam, Charlie is his human God in that he and Miranda make choices about Adam’s personality, nurture the first stages of his life and slowly introduce him to the world. Like the Creature, Adam's consciousness comes in stages, while his conscience – if we can call it that—centres on relentless algorithms of truth. Then there are questions about monstrosity – the potential of the muscular Adam to break and arm and worse; the introduction of a rapist and the monsters of the age (war, the monstrosity of t…

The Paper Men

The English writer William Golding – third in The Times 2008 list of ‘great British writers since 1945’ – needs no introduction, though I suspect that his 1984 novel The Paper Men might. The Paper Men was one of his late novels, published before the last two books from the trilogy To the Ends of the Earth (1987, 1989) and a posthumous novel, The Double Tongue (1995). Golding published 13 novels, though it is his first that everyone knows. Let me pass you the conch if you want to comment on any of Golding’s earlier works.
I found The Paper Men in a second hand bookshop in Katoomba and read it on the recommendation of a university professor after he had read a chapter of my current creative work in progress. Frank Kermode, reviewing The Paper Men in 1984, described it as ‘a concerto for piccolo.’ I am not usually in the business of quoting reviewers, but this is Kermode, and I am still trying to figure out what to make of the principal character, the alcoholic genius writer, Wilfred Bar…