The news that a previously "forgotten" Ian McEwan story has been "uncovered" seems a bit odd, given that the English novelist is neither dead nor particularly publishing-shy, and his many works have not, to our knowledge, been lost to a nuclear apocalypse.
But that's precisely what Sebastian Groes, a professor at London's Roehampton University, managed to accomplish last year. As The Guardian reports, Groes discovered the story, "Untitled," in a 1976 edition of Northwestern University's Tri-Quarterly; another forgotten short, "Intersection," appeared in the same journal in 1975. Now "Untitled" is getting a new publication in a new publication of Groes' book, Ian McEwan: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Turns out it's rather disturbing. Here's The Independent's synopsis:
The grotesque, two-page story concerns a woman who asks a doctor to take revenge on her promiscuous husband by removing his bladder, tongue, genitalia and the tendons in both wrists as he sleeps, rendering him effectively an infant. "Women … want their husbands to need them... to be dependent on them," explains the doctor. "They come to me. I recommend a bladder job."
Not that McEwan is a stranger to the grotesque; his early novels include The Cement Garden and The Comfort of Strangers, and Groes points out he was once known as "Ian Macabre." But the acclaimed author has been conspicuously silent on the subject of the story. Perhaps there's a reason he didn't go out of his way to drudge it up in the past few decades.
Not so, Groes assures us: "He was very happy for it to be put back into circulation." A relief.