Excerpt: Amsterdam

Taking a break from the BBC Top 100 Best Novel List to read some older McEwan and others that have been accumulating.
"In his corner of West London, and in his self-preoccupied daily round, it was easy for Clive to think of civilization as the sum of all the arts, along with design, cuisine, good wine and the like. But now it appeared that this was what it really was — square miles of meager modern houses whose principle purpose was the support of TV aerials and dishes; factories producing worthless junk to be advertised on the televisions and, in dismal lots, lorries queuing up to distribute it; and everywhere else, roads and the tyranny of the traffic. It looked like a raucous dinner party the morning after. No one would have wished it this way, but no one has been asked. Nobody planned it, nobody wanted it, but most people had to live in it. To watch it mile after mile, who would have guessed that kindness or the imagination, that Purcell or Britten, Shakespeare or Milton, had ever existed." -- from Amsterdam by Ian McEwan: