Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Ice, Books, and Ian McEwan's Beaches on the Fifth Anniversary of the Start of the Current Iraq War

I had hoped to have some interesting feedback to share from one of my book groups on Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach. This group, which was started in the late 1960s and has been meeting every two weeks with much the same cast of characters ever since, discussed the short novel last night. I was really looking forward to learning what the others thought about the connection between “On Dover Beach” in Saturday and the setting for this book. The poem by Mathew Arnold, you’ll remember, saves Henry Perowne’s family from a crazy agressor. But Chesil Beach, in which the sea's "melancholy, long, withdrawing roar" is distantly heard , is the scene of a couple’s first, disastrous night together. No “Ah, love, let us be true/To one another! ” in this story.

The weather and the automobile did me in, however. I had forgotten to check to see if the garage door was free—it freezes up frequently when there is a little thaw and melt water drips off the roof, only to freeze at night. It took me 15 minutes on my hands and knees to chip away at the bottom to get the door open, and then when I tried to start the car nothing happened. Of course, it had sat there for nearly three weeks (February 28, I think) when I last used it to run errands and had it washed at the car wash. Lee thinks that maybe some water froze on wires to the starter motor (the car lights went on, indicating the battery is still good) but there’s not much you can do about that when you’re half an hour late already.

So I missed the meeting. Damn! Maybe in two week’s time the weather will be more clement.

In the meantime, though, a word to note the fifth anniversary of the starting of the current Iraq war. Saturday takes place on the international day of protest the month before the US and "the coalition of the willing" began the war. Perhaps a further quote from "Dover Beach" is appropriate.

"..the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."


Anne C. said...

On my block, no one's car seems to have made it through the bad weather unscathed. My (parked!) car lost a bumper and mirror, one neighbour accidentally backed up into another's very retro Mercedes, and everyone else eventually needed a boost after the ice encasing their tires finally gave way.

Lots of bikes out again, lately!

Mary Soderstrom said...

I imagine the backing-into-the-Mercedes scene had elements of the worst sort of snow rage!

On a personal note: the car started this morning. Warmer weather is good for starter motors, it seems.

Have a good holiday.