The Atlantic Ocean: Reports from Britain and America

Andrew O’Hagan. Mariner, $15.95 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-15-101378-4
Award-winning Scottish novelist O’Hagan (The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe) brings together pieces previously published in Granta, the Guardian Weekend, the London Review of Books, and the New York Review of Books. A brilliant essayist, he constructs sentences that pierce like pinpricks. He recalls the emotional confessions elicited by his first published essay, from 1993, about the killing of two-year-old James Bulger by two 10-year-old boys; the original essay (included here) segues into a chilling confession of his own boyhood bullying: “Torture among our kind was fairly commonplace.” After the July 7, 2005, London bus bombs he thinks, “In this seat, would it be a leg I’d lose, or an arm?” Sailing the ocean blue to write about Americans (such as Lee Harvey Oswald, William Styron, and James Baldwin), he dissects In Cold Blood and concludes: “It is clear now he invented whole sections.... None of it happened as Capote wished it had.” Eye-tracking O’Hagan’s observations on everything from Internet “mob tactics” and Marilyn Monroe (“Marilyn blew in like a snowdrift”) to 9/11, one finds bright flashes of critical insights and trenchant thoughts embedded in dark synaptic cobwebs of anguish, grief, and memory. (Jan. 22)
Reviewed on: 08/06/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
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