On Chesil Beach
by Ian McEwan
The most talked-about story of unfortunate sex since the summer of Portnoy.
Two newlyweds, one night, a tightly compressed and uncomfortable story: it's a formula for an intensely memorable quick read. This isn’t about sex, though you wouldn't know that from what you hear. McEwan's interest is not so much the question of sex, but rather the matter of seriousness; the difficulty his lovers face is not so much their terrible inexperience but their incapacity for understanding what to take seriously, and when to shrug, or laugh, or simply wait.