Whether some elements of the central post-war event re-told at the end of Ian McEwan’s “Black Dogs” have any basis in reality is potentially irrelevant – and if you’ve read the book, you’ll probably have a good idea of the specific element I’m talking about! True or false, it doesn’t diminish the power of the story. Indeed, its depth and complexity, its study of a relationship and the philosophies of the two people entwined within it, is where the real triumph lies.
Indeed, the eponymous black dogs are central to the story only in that they prove the trigger for the events that follow – and which are told first. This is where the ‘story’ actually resides. At the end of the day, it could have been almost any extreme experience which provided the catalyst to shape the futures of June and Bernard, their ‘journey’ (McEwan’s word), the kind of mix of happenstance and belief that steers us all .
The book was (I’m tempted to say ‘of course’!) another super read, and “Amsterdam” is now at the top of a reading pile currently dominated by Mr. McEwan.