Back in January, after I’d received a wonderful shed load of new books to add to my bookcase, I wrote that one of the books I was most looking forward to read was Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth. It is, ironically, the only one of my ‘eager’ reads I’ve actually got round to reading yet because of other commitments. It is his newest work, and I wasn’t disappointed.
I’m writing my dissertation on McEwan and Vonnegut, from a metafictional angle, and my dissertation focuses on Atonement, which not only did I really enjoy as a novel, but I equally enjoyed unpicking the intricacies. I really think Sweet Tooth built on some of those self-conscious novelistic conventions, but took it to a new level by adhering to some of the conventions of spy fiction.
Instead of exploring the Second World War, as with Atonement, which critics have argued is McEwan’s finest book, Sweet Tooth explores The Cold War. I’ve never read a book which explores this quite so explicitly (obviously novels such as Nineteen-Eighty Four covertly explore these themes) so I found the subject matter quite engaging.
I also find novels which engage with literature itself incredibly interesting. There is something I find infinitely intriguing about a novel which questions its own form. I know some people find this irritating, and undoubtedly, those people should steer away from Ian McEwan’s work, as even his less metafictional work deals with literature and truthfulness. But for those who find that as mesmerising as I do, well I suggest you buy Sweet Tooth and add it to your collection.