For a man whose many novels have explored violence, obsession, sexual deviance and devastating loss, Ian McEwan turns out to be a pleasant, low-key fellow off the page. At least that's how he appeared on a recent visit to Manhattan. Dressed in a casual charcoal-gray jacket and rumpled slacks, he slumps a bit in his hotel-room chair as he responds to questions, answering each one reflectively, frequently quoting the likes of Seneca, Henry James and Wallace Stevens. As he finishes his thoughts, his voice tails off until it's almost inaudible. He waits patiently for the next query, sometimes glancing away.
Perhaps Mr. McEwan has mellowed. Since "Atonement," his historical novel published here in 2002, his works have been far less dark. Or perhaps, considering that a teacher once described him as "hopelessly shy," he has actually grown in exuberance, however limited it remains.
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