Storify: Ian McEwan's Nutshell

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

This is the book in question.

@sazza_jay: who asked for this

Ana: ....narrated by an unborn fetus.

@the_author_: Oh my god it is too early for this

Ana: Bailey, I am just. *opens mouth, closes mouth, reaches for coffee*

@the_author_: I need at least an entire pot before I can even begin to process why anyone thought that book was a good idea

Ana: 'so the pov character is a fetus but don't worry! he can still snark about trigger warnings and safe spaces from the womb'

@the_author_: 'You can't make identity the outer limit of your politics. Oh and here's a fetus that parrots my political beliefs'

Ana: Bets on whether this fetus gets aborted?

@the_author_: What's extra hilarious about this is that I wrote basically that exact story as a 13-year-old Catholic school attendee


@the_author_: Apparently it's a Very Serious Literary Idea and not at all something hacky and maudlin!

Ana: I'm imagining the POV fetus as the cigar-smoking baby in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT. "Day 98. Sat on the Dame's bladder during Calculus 2. Ditzy doll didn't like that but what's she gonna do? I'm a fucking baby."

@eastsidekate Day 47: Again with the buffalo wings? And would it kill you to turn on the lights? Lazy millennials.

Ana: I'm envisioning hand-to-hand combat with the abortion doctor, tbh. Then he just squirms out several months early.

@the_author_: Lmfaooooo. "I don't need this safe space bullshit, I'm outta here"

Ana: Flips off the doctor on his way out and tries to chat up the nearest nurse.


Still can't get over that fetus book.


You can say 'oh it doesn't speak English, we're just reading his thoughts in English', but HE CAN COMMENTATE ON CAMPUS TRENDS. If the fetus can form opinions on campus safe spaces, it MUST understand English. Unless it has telepathy with its host.

I write MAGICALLY AMNESIAC CHARACTERS and I'm upset at how bad I know this will be. Slightly blanker than usual slates are HARD to write, ffs! And a fetus dials that up to 111.


The fetus is Hamlet. I repeat, the fetus is Hamlet.

The dry horror of the poor sod tasked to write this article.

[Re: the assertion that a fetus is genderless.] You're describing your fetus as he/him, though. Like, mixed signals here.

I.... don't feel like stereotypes about women make you an expert on trans people.

HAHAHA WELP THERE IT IS. As @LouisatheLast points out, he's created a blank slate to treat his own opinion as the default human opinion. Everyone else = deviant.

WHY SHOULD WE EXPECT A FETUS TO UNDERSTAND THE NEEDS OF AN ADULT SURVIVOR? I'M SERIOUSLY ASKING. Western fetishization of white babies is fucking weird. Babies don't have magical insight the rest of us lose.

Climate change. God save us from liberal white cis men.

@alendrel: Addressing climate change is fine. Using it as a cudgel against those engaged in advocacies one finds less important/relevant (because 99.9% of time the speaker isn't affected by them) is not.

You know what MIGHT help income distribution? Not forcing marginalized people to drop out of college for lack of safe spaces.

"Tiny world... Especially when you're young" So he's positioning college students as literal fetuses. It's a metaphor. Greeeeeeeaaaat. In the end, the fetus is a metaphor for college students so. *throws up hands*

*starts drinking heavily*

@sanderphilipse: Wait the Guardian did another interview with him? This different one's from two days ago.

Here's the one I'm tweeting. I just read the other one. It's....much shorter. The other article makes him sound even worse, somehow.

Author worries he'll be killed, but pooh-poohs campus survivors. CLASSY.

"He doesn't hate women, he hates the uneducated masses they fuck" isn't... no... you can't...


The only person more helpless than a fetus.

Oh. My. God.

The only person more helpless than a fetus. Is. Hamlet.


......I mean, when you're literally using someone else's plot and are just jacking off on your keyboard, I guess?

So the Guardian is assuring us that he got transgender right this time but he's saying people over-reacted and called him a Nazi!?!?!?! He literally LITERALLY says that transgender youth grow up with "nothing much to worry about". He LITERALLY says that. And the Guardian wrote TWO articles extolling how he's really tackled trans stuff properly this time.

I'm not reading the rest of that article. I'd rather set my own hair on fire.

@djolder: ...2016 is officially trash.

The ONLY good thing about this novel is that it's made me even more pro-abortion. Hamlet isn't living rent-free in MY womb. But can we talk about how this book was pitched? It's a gimmick that has been done before, using a plot everyone knows by heart, and the author is PROUD to have done NO research.

Also, I sorta alluded to this earlier but SEX WHILE PREGNANT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY. If I wrote a novel where the POV character was one of my eggs fighting off sperm, would it be compared to ANYTHING Salman Rushdie has done? (I feel like @SalmanRushdie's books tackled bigger things than "kids these days and their Trigger Warnings", but what do I know.)

We can't get out. The sperm have taken the bridge and second hall. They are coming.

It's being held up as trans-friendly because the baby doesn't like its stumpy shrimp-penis. YOU GUYS. LIKE, can I just. The cissexism here. The baby ASSUMES penis = he/him. The baby has to LEARN otherwise. There is no one Trans Experience but that's not how it is for a LOT of trans kids. They don't learn about gender options from a trans adult!

Here is a cis dude writing that trans kids don't know their own gender identity until options are explained to them. Which is the main reason transphobes fight proper education and our rights to raise our own children. Because we trans people will "make" all children be trans.

Now, yes, some trans people do need to hear there are options first. Because they absorb cissexism. That's a real thing. But this fetus is a BLANK SLATE. No cissexism in the womb to absorb! And it still assumes immediately that penis = he/him. I'm not saying no transgender fetus would (well, I am, because our brains aren't THAT SOPHISTICATED YET), but this isn't healthy trans rep.

@RainicornMax: I might like if a trans person wrote this and the fetus absorbed cissexism from the ultrasound-based assumptions of dr/parents. that could be good commentary on how cissexist indoctrination starts before we even leave the womb!

*nods* Yeah, THAT could be done interestingly (but omg traumatic for me, I think), hearing your gender assigned in the womb. "Why are they buying me blue things?"

@DireJackalope: "why is the first/only thing everyone asks about my gender?"

Couple more random thoughts and then I'll shut up. According to the author, he started with the premise of being INSIDE a woman, and everything developed from there. It is fascinating, not in a good way, that he finds it easier to write a male fetus inside a woman than to write from "inside" a woman MC?

There's an icky aspect to it that @diannaeanderson pointed out earlier--like an unformed male human is more relatable than a woman. Which is, of course, what powers a lot of anti-abortion and transphobic ideologies. Fetus penis over all.

Can I talk about the Hamlet fetus for a few more tweets? I'm gonna.

[TW: Rape] A college student is being released today after serving 3 months for a brutal rape. But white men like the author look at our colleges and say the REAL problem is people being sensitive to the needs of rape survivors.

[TW] The problem in our colleges is INsensitivity to rape. The insensitivity that leads athletes to KNOW they can rape with impunity. You could write a lot about how our culture treats rape survivors. McEwan instead wrote a book on how we should treat them WORSE.

[TW] Ian McEwan wrote a book where he straight up said that college students with PTSD haven't had to grapple with anything hard in life. Because PTSD is just a self-indulgent choice. Fuck him.

@DawnHFoster: Ian McEwan's written a novel about a foetus who hates trigger warnings, this is not a drill.

Oh my god, here is a sample of the actual WRITING.

"The decline of the West in a new guise." --Hamlet fetus

"validation of their chosen ~identities~," --Hamlet fetus

"A social-media site famously proposes seventy-one gender options" --Hamlet fetus (oh, yeah, this book is REAL transgender friendly)

"If I turn out to be white, I may identify as black." --Hamlet fetus

"I may announce myself as disabled, or disabled in context." --Hamlet fetus (wow, the #ableism burns) (yes, disabled people are all liars)

"special campus safe room equipped with Play-Doh and looped footage of gambolling puppies." --Hamlet fetus

"I may need advance warning if upsetting books or ideas threaten my very being by coming too close," --Hamlet fetus on trigger warnings.

"Let climate change braise in hell... I'll be an activist of the emotions." --Hamlet fetus

"If my college does not bless me... I'll press my face into the vice chancellor's lapels and weep." --Hamlet fetus

"Feeling is queen. Unless she identifies as a king." --Hamlet fetus being transphobic again and always.

This book is hateful garbage. This book is transphobic. This book openly mocks survivors. This book is ableist. This book drips contempt.


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