One of his earliest books and already a socially potent work of a future tragic novelist of our day ; it is about the dissimulated death of a Mother by her 4 kids who bury her in the basement. This horrendous tale is precipitated as always by a crisis which has been long standing : the state of psychotic isolation of a family even when both parents were alive.No neighbors, no friends, no family or relatives around them .Mc Ewan knows the working class and its poverty when either enemployment or psychopathic behavior strikes ; here the father who is feared by all and a loner decides to cement his tiny garden so that no unsightly grass will ever grow again… No one opposes him but luckily he dies accidentally a little while after. The mother, more human , but weak , becomes ill probably with cancer and slowly dies one day in her bed. The horrified kids , unable to face social services , decide to bury her corpse under a pile of cement and not mention her demise .Anti social,un-civilized,incestuous, dabbing in drugs, they start a sort of anarchic communal life where no one works, goes to school or respects any order . Soon a state of decayed civilisation , a phenomenon that fascinates Mc Ewan installs itself in this un- hinged social unit headed by the whorish older sister.
This is the remarkable aspect of this atrocious story which eventually ends up with the arrival of the police and its punishing arsenal on the premises : the cadaver of the Mother had been glimpsed through the fragmented cement in the basement…Can one imagine any thing more macabre or gory , yet, the tale is sober, not dramatic but cold, detached, almost claiming a normalcy for a group of abandoned children never reared properly, left to unavoidable savagery and vagrancy , without guidance or adult authority at all .A poignant fake family is there , in front of our eyes.
These families are not that uncommon apparently in our urban jungles, with whites , Irish or immigrants alike, who just drift and fall into crime almost by chance and survive,ignored by all. » Cement Garden » a beginning opus of note for Mc ewan , a future writer of great dramatic strength who would be giving the amazing « On Chesil Beach » 20 years later.