Now I know where Jonathan Coe found the inspiration for "The Rain Before It Falls". These two novels seem written by the same hand. Astonishing.
Here it follows a little list, of some of the similiarities between these two novels.
- A dying elderly woman.
- Her memories.
- Her broke-up with the love of her life.
- Description of black&white photographs (for introducing characters).
- Love in the time of war.
- South of France.
- Bad signs (black animals) and their interpretations.
Still it's surprising how much Ian McEwan, Jonathan Coe and - I could add - Martin Amis may have in common sometimes.
Or maybe it's just me trying to find analogies at any rate.
I like this game.
I'm not sure who made it better at this time.
McEwan wrote it first, for what it counts.
Still, at the end of the day, I would put Jonathan over Ian.
"Black Dogs" has its (very good) moments, but looks unfinished, half-made, way too short behind his powerful symbolism.
It occurred to me that McEwan could have chiselled this novel around two focal points he had already written:
the notes he took while being in Berlin during the unforgettable night of 1989 in which the Wall fell down and some travel observations he noted down during a French vacation.
Unlike from other novels by McEwan, this one doesn't make any justice to its characters. Come on! I would have liked knowing more about June, Bernard not to mention that hologram-like daughter of them, Jenny.
This is why "The Rain Before It Falls" albeit being largely derivative, is in fact more convincing than "Black Dogs". Coe gives us people. McEwan gives us figurines. But the dogs work.