Excerpt: Amsterdam (Ian McEwan)

From Amsterdam:

The following day the editor presided over a subdued meeting with his senior staff. Tony Montano sat to one side, a silent observer.

‘It’s time we ran more regular columns. They’re cheap, and everyone else is doing them. You know, we hire someone of low to medium intelligence, possibly female, to write about, well, nothing much. You’ve seen the sort of thing. Goes to a party and can’t remember someone’s name. Twelve hundred words.’

‘Sort of navel gazing,’ Jeremy Ball suggested

‘Not quite. Gazing is too intellectual. More like navel chat.’