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Monday, March 6, 2017

Nutshell by Ian McEwan


Nutshell by Ian McEwan is Hamlet in the womb.  It’s Shakespeare. We know the story. A woman, Trudy (Gertrude) is married to one man, John Cairncross (British spy), and then takes her husband’s brother, Claude, as her lover. They kill the father of the child in the womb. This story is told from the womb.
This baby will be born with wants. He learned about wants in the womb as the mother indulged him with wine, too much wine, podcasts, and talk radio ad infinitum. He will be a precocious little brat, like the original, because his genes inform us of this fact. He has learned eloquence, reasoning, and what to expect while in the womb absorbing all, especially the relationships between his mother, Trudy, and the two men in her life, John, her husband, and Claude, his brother her lover. I loved all the Hamlet allusions. The baby avenges his father’s murder. Birth is chaos while life is seeking order.
Another Hamlet inspired novel is Gertrude and Claudius by John Updike. It tells of why the pair has to murder Hamlet the king. It is a great prequel as is this gem, Nutshell.

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