McEwan meets Madonna

December 6, 2009 | No Comments

My continuing journey through Ian McEwan’s back catalogue recently paused at The Cement Garden (1978), his novella about, to quote the Los Angeles Times, “the banality of evil.” Four children left parent-less in a dilapidated house ferment an amoral atmosphere of lethargy and manipulation. It confirms my suspicion that adolescence is not when innocence is lost, it is when our true base nature exists in the raw, before we learn to suppress and hide it. A gripping, nasty little book, I was relieved to finish it.

As an aside, I came across this line while reading, “Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short and wear shirts and boots because it’s okay to be a boy… but for a boy to look like a girl is degrading…” and thought, ‘Jings, that sounds familiar. Didn’t our Mags yodel about that’? And sure enough, Madonna included a line of dialogue from the 1993 film of The Cement Garden in her song “What it feels like for a girl,” spoken by (and this didn’t surprise me) Charlotte Gainsborough.