‘Butterflies’ by Ian McEwan

I obviously have a thing for macabre stories. Here’s another one. It’s from McEwan’s first published collection. The protagonist is one of those disturbed young men that often feature in his early work (see The Cement Garden): a character you’re constantly watching to see if he is as disturbed as you think he might be. I love the way the story is constructed, with information being revealed and withheld at the right moments, creating an unstable, eerie atmosphere. ‘Eeriness’ is exactly the kind of feeling that a story is able to evoke where a novel or a poem struggles.

From First Love, Last Rites, Jonathan Cape, 1975

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