I'm reading Ian McEwan's Saturday at the moment. In The Age Pamela Bone has a discussion of the book and goes on from it to talk about wider issues concerning division of opinion over the war. She writes of McEwan's treatment of the day of the February 15 demonstration:
The scene "has an air of innocence and English dottiness". Perowne is struck by the "celebratory nature" of the crowds, people holding banners saying "Not in my name", secure in the knowledge of their own goodness. He later wonders why, among those 2 million idealists, there seemed to be "not one banner, one fist or voice raised against Saddam".An 'exclusive hold on moral discernment' - that phrase from the novel struck me as well.
Perowne, a neurosurgeon, is ambivalent about the coming invasion. He has treated an Iraqi professor who was a victim of Saddam Hussein's torture chambers. He cannot feel, "as the marchers probably can, that they have an exclusive hold on moral discernment". He imagines himself as Saddam, "surveying the crowd with satisfaction from some Baghdad ministry balcony", telling himself that "the good-hearted electorates of the Western democracies will never allow their governments to attack his country".
Apart from McEwan's observations on these matters, Saturday has much wisdom about the world: astute observations on the inner experience of flying; on how people who have more than one child come to know directly and certainly about inborn difference; and a wonderful characterization of Henry Perowne's attitude to literary fiction. From which:
This reading list persuaded Perowne that the supernatural was the recourse of an insufficient imagination, a dereliction of duty, a childish evasion of the difficulties and wonders of the real, of the demanding re-enactment of the plausible.(Thanks: JN.)