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First Love, Last Rites: Stories

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Overview

Ian McEwan's Somerset Maugham Award-winning collection First Love, Last Rites brought him instant recognition as one of the most influential voices writing in England today. 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. These tales are as horrifying as anything written by Clive Barker or Stephen King, but they are crafted with a ...
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Overview

Ian McEwan's Somerset Maugham Award-winning collection First Love, Last Rites brought him instant recognition as one of the most influential voices writing in England today. 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. These tales are as horrifying as anything written by Clive Barker or Stephen King, but they are crafted with a lyricism and intensity that compel us to confront our secret kinship with the horrifying.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"McEwan [has] a powerful talent that is both weird and wonderful." --Boston Sunday Globe

"Ian McEwan's fictional world combin[es] the bleak, dreamlike quality of de Chirico's city-scapes with the strange eroticism of canvases by Balthus. Menace lies crouched between the lines of his neat, angular prose, and weird, grisly things occur in his books with nearly casual aplomb." --The New York Times

"McEwan is a splendid magician of fear." --Village Voice Literary Supplement

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679750192
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 767,701
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Ian McEwan is the bestselling author of more than ten books, including the novels The Comfort of Strangers and Black Dogs, both shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Amsterdam, winner of the Booker Prize, and The Child in Time, winner of the Whitbread Award, as well as the story collections First Love, Last Rites, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award, and In Between the Sheets. He has also written screenplays, plays, television scripts, a children’s book, and the libretto for an oratorio. He lives in London.

Biography

One of the most distinguished novelists of his generation, Ian McEwan was born in England and spent much of his childhood traveling with his father, an army officer stationed in the Far East, Germany, and North Africa. He graduated from Sussex University in 1970 with a degree in English Literature and received his MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia.

McEwan burst upon the literary scene in the mid-1970s with two short story collections that highlighted with equal clarity his early predilection for disturbing, somewhat shocking subject matter and his dazzling prose style. Similarly, his 1978 debut novel, The Cement Garden, attracted as much attention for its unsettling storyline as for its stylistic brilliance. But even though his early work was saturated with deviant sex, violence, and death (so much so that he earned the nickname "Ian MacAbre"), he was never dismissed as a mere purveyor of cheap thrills. In fact, two of his most provocative works (The Comfort of Strangers and Enduring Love) were shortlisted for major U.K. awards.

As he has matured, McEwan has moved away from disquieting themes like incest, sadism, and psychotic obsession to explore more introspective human dramas. In an interview with The New Republic he described his literary evolution in this way:

"One passes the usual milestones in life: You have children, you find that whether you like it or not, you have a huge investment in the human project somehow succeeding. You become maybe a little more tolerant as you get older. Pessimism begins to feel something like a badge that you perhaps do not wear so easily. There is something delicious and reckless about the pessimism of being 21. And when you get older you feel maybe a little more delicate and hope that things will flourish. You don't want to take a stick to it."
Among many literary honors, McEwan has been awarded the Somerset Maugham Award for First Love, Last Rites (1976) and the Whitbread Prize for The Child in Time (1987). Nominated three times for the Booker Prize, he finally won in 1998 for Amsterdam. He has also received the WH Smith Literary Award and National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award for Atonement (2001) and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Saturday (2005).

Good To Know

While developing the Harry Perowne, the neurosurgeon in Saturday, McEwan actually spent a year observing a neurosurgeon at work, which included time spent in the operating theater.

Although he is known principally for his novels, McEwan has also brought his vision to the screen as writer of the films The Ploughman's Lunch (1983) and Soursweet (1988).

Hollywood loves McEwan. Film adaptions of his novels include The Cement Garden, The Comfort of Strangers, The Innocent, Enduring Love, and Atonement.

McEwan is no stranger to controversy. In 1999, his first wife kidnapped their 13-year-old son.The child was returned and McEwan awarded sole custody. His ex-wife was fined for "defamation" of McEwan's name.

In 2002, Ian McEwan discovered that he had a brother born from an affair between McEwan's parents that occurred before their marriage and given up for adoption during WWII. Since their relationship has come to light, McEwan and his brother have met frequently and forged a friendship.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Ian Russell McEwan
    2. Hometown:
      Oxford, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 21, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Aldershot, England
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Sussex, 1970; M.A., University of East Anglia, 1971
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

Homemade
Solid Geometry
Last Day of Summer
Cocker at the Theatre
Butterflies
Conversation with a Cupboard Man
First Love, Last Rites
Disguises

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2008

    First Book, Lasting Love

    In June of 1983, in one of London's large bookstores, I discovered Ian McEwan's First Love, Last Rites. Immediately, I was struck by the lyricism of his short stories. The mere opening of the first sentence of the title story--'From the beginning of summer until it seemed pointless'--sufficed to make me read on and peruse the other stories and purchase the book. The other stories did not disappoint: they too purled with an effortlessly elegant style and intriguing content. As an English professor, I am usually drawn more to style than content, but First Love, Last Rites has the intellectual/sensual ingredients for a nourishing time by the general reader. I knew these were the stories of a young man, but I also knew that he was destined to accomplish more and greater books. Thus, I still have McEwan's book on my bookshelf, and from time to time I read one of the stories: 'Mina that Mina' (from 'Disguises'), I read aloud and savor each sentence. First Love, Last Rites was Ian McEwan's first book, but I and undoubtedly other readers have had a lasting love for it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2009

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    Posted September 3, 2010

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