Did anybody get anything from Ian McEwan’s New Yorker story? Because I didn’t really. Spoilers below.
Female protagonist, narrating from the present the story of an affair forty years ago that brought her into her life as a spy in MI-5. Ultimately McEwan’s female protagonist makes no decision. For an agent, she sure has no agency (ba-dum, ching!), everything just happens to her. Her only goal in the story is to get her original boyfriend off, who turns out to be gay and that’s why she can’t, and before the story is half-over that’s revealed and the boyfriend’s presence ends and it’s just her and the old guy she’s banging who’s training her for her spy exam, somehow, making her read newspapers and shit. His wife finds out, is what spurs the climax, and it wasn’t even the protagonist’s decision to reveal the affair, it was his mistake that he conveniently forgets about, and that’s the most interesting territory the story finds, is how we can sometimes make ourselves misremember bad decisions. But it’s not even her doing it, and I don’t really see any evidence that she’s doing the same thing with her gay boyfriend reminiscences, but maybe that’s it. Or supposed to be it. From what I can see, the only reason to have her narrate the story that seems more focused on the older fellow is because he couldn’t convincingly narrate both the mistake and the misremembering of the mistake; we would only get the altered picture from him.
In any case, this doesn’t rise to the level of “story” for me. I would’ve filed this one into the rejection pile. So, yeah. We’re gonna need that Man-Booker prize back, buddy.
Also, you wrote The Good Son?