In my reading group last night, the discussion of On Chesil Beach kept returning to how much the book made each woman cringe.
I think McEwan was doing this on purpose. By dwelling so emphatically on a wedding night disaster, he was forcing the reader to experience his characters' shame and horror. He did this through some very specific and relentlessly fulsome details.
Making a reader or viewer cringe drives something home. And I am thinking here of the TV show The Office, where Michael's antics often produce a cringe. A few nights ago, in his workshop on diversity Michael managed to offend everyone in the room. All in the Family did it well too.
I'm sure other books and movies do it too. I don't think I could write it though. Fail to pull it off and the writer looks like a racist instead of someone holding racism up for our ridicule.
Who else does it well?