Why This Book Is Giving Me the Creeps

I’m currently reading Ian McEwan’s Atonement, and it’s seriously freaking me out. Here’s why.

atonementI picked up Atonement at Borders a couple of weeks ago because I’d been meaning to read it for a while and because it was on their “3 for 2” table, which I have a hard time resisting. (But it’s always that third book that’s trouble, isn’t it? After finding two you know you want, mysteriously, all the rest seem to turn into middling food-themed chick lit.)

Halfway through the second chapter, I get this odd feeling of deja vu, as if I’ve read this part of the book before. It occurs to me that it was probably published as an excerpt in The New Yorker some time ago, and that’s why it seems vaguely familiar. Anyway, it’s enjoyable.

Then I reach the third or forth chapter, and I get the same feeling about another scene in the novel, as if I read it a long time ago, but didn’t really read it. It’s more like I dreamed it. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but once it happens, I’m thinking “oh yeah, that’s what was going to happen.”

Once I approached the middle of the book, it really started to get to me. I tried to explain the mystifying feeling to my husband, and he suggested that I probably read the book before and then forgot about it. I often read a book and then forget what it was about, and sometimes I start reading a book, and then realize that I had already read it a long time ago. But I’ve never had a such a hazy half-recognition that lasted throughout an entire book. And there’s no way that I could have read it a long time ago, because it was only published five years ago.

So I must conclude that I’m losing it. I must have read the book at some point within the past five years, and then it was zapped from my memory when I hit my head on something. Either that or Mr. McEwan somehow plagiarized my dreams.

8 thoughts on “Why This Book Is Giving Me the Creeps

  1. Halloo!! This was one of my favorite books that we read in book club about 2 1/2 years ago. I’m sure I told you about it, and I think I remember you leafing through it when we were together a couple years ago. In fact, I thought you borrowed it from me, because I can’t find it one my shelves. I think Ian McEwan is one of the best, (“Saturday” is a gem) BUT don’t go get the book he wrote about the kids who lived on their own after burying their parents. It totally grossed me out.

  2. Unfortuantly that happens to me too. It’s fun when I know I’ve read the book before so it’s like rediscovering it but quite disconcerting when I don’t remember ever even hearing of the book. I bought a book read it forgot about it and then bought it again and read it the whole time thinking wow this is familiar then when I was moving I found the 2 copies! Do you ever read reader’s digest? They publish dumbed down versions of best sellers maybe you read it in a doctor’s office.

  3. OK, so I’ve finished the book now, and I’m convinced that I never read the whole thing through, despite your missing copy, Mom. I’ve never been known to skip around and read different sections of a book, so it MUST have been a condensed version printed in the New Yorker (I don’t read Reader’s Digest, SinKnitty, but that would be a good guess!), even though I can’t find any mention of it online.

    Maybe it will forever remain a mystery. In any case, it’s a good read, and completely recommended.

  4. Ha! I found your blog through knitty & think this is pretty funny. Last year I started keeping a notebook where I wrote down the name of the books I was reading with a comment or two… b/c I couldn’t keep track of the books I had read.

  5. hey, do you by chance read the nyer? i read this book as well and believe it may have been excerpted as i had a similar experience and that’s really the one thing i read besides the paper. just a thought.

    i have begun to use librarything to keep a record of my books, it rocks.

    love the little woodcreatures!

  6. That happened to me recently. Can’t remember which book it was, though.
    New visitor from knitty. I’ll have to come back and have more of a look around when I have more time.

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