McEwan's skill is best seen in his ruthless dissection of character, and in this book, he stretches two guys out like laboratory frogs. We see their guts, (the inner workings), and follow the disintegration of a lifelong friendship... Like the hissing of live grenades, there is a brooding that lurks in his pages...yet McEwan keeps it all closer to being light and comical than heavy and morbid.
My own [McEwan-like in its economy] summary would be -- This story addresses the way that vocational (professional) ambition can supercede and radically displace the naked commitment of friendship.
The dustjacket of my hardcover version depicts a duel taking place in a forested area.
Does a duel take place in the book?
No. Not in a PHYSICAL sense. But, suffice it to say... the dustjacket is appropriate in a way that will not be understood until the very final pages. And you will want to get to those pages.
This is the perfect book to take along with you when you know you will have 4 or 5 hours of non-interrupted reading time... (train, plane, bus, coffee-shop). If you can't find time to read McEwan, I must say to you, "Wow, are you ever busy!"
Amsterdam won the 1998 Booker Prize!
For a great synopsis of the book, click here.