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Solar Paperback – March 8, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Top Customer Reviews
Our unsympathetic protagonist is Michael Beard. (I note that the name is no accident, a beard being a person that is used by someone else to cover something up, and Michael meaning someone who is like God.) Michael is a 50-something former Nobel laureate, resting on his fleshy laurels from twenty-two years ago, where he stood on the shoulders of Einstein and proposed a scientific "Conflation Theory" that was trailblazing at the time. Now, he tours around the globe giving lectures and consults for a large fee, and he sits idly as a member of a board at a center for renewable energy in the UK. His main pursuit is women, and he pursues them with -aholic depravity. As the novel opens, his fifth marriage is falling apart due to his infidelities. But this time, his wife got the last word by having some side dishes for herself and leaving him labeled as the cuckold.
Michael is a bozo with a brain. He is selfish, hideous, immoderate, and amoral.Read more ›
With the verdict on the book's merits a split decision, it doesn't seem useful simply to add to the chorus of contradictory conclusions ("Yes, it's brilliant!" "No, it's a waste of your time!"). Instead, let me offer some guidelines for you to consider if you're thinking of reading "Solar."
- Are you expecting an experience comparable to McEwan's recent novels? If so, be forewarned that "Solar" is not cut from the same cloth. In the best of his recent works, McEwan provides readers with the supreme pleasure of a plot and characters that fully seize your consciousness and sympathy. He composes set pieces with such fine craftsmanship that you forget you are engaged in the act of reading. You lose awareness of the author's guiding hand. These are the moments readers long for: being pulled forward by a frictionless, seemingly unmediated flow of story and emotion. The opening chapter of "Enduring Love" and parts of "Saturday" achieve this magical state. Many readers, myself included, experienced this phenomenon most memorably amid the sweep of "Atonement". So a red flag must be raised this time: if you pick up "Solar," do not expect to enjoy anything similar.Read more ›
And by and large, it is, if only for his scathing satire of the scientific world, with all its egos, posturing and pretensions. I was mightily impressed not only with McEwan's grasp of the pettiness, jealousy and dysfunction that are so prevalent among the uber-educated, but also with the extensive research that obviously went into his descriptions of alternative energy technologies and solar energy in particular.
The catch, however, is that his protagonist, Nobel laureate Michael Beard, is a thoroughly repellent character, and what I found laugh-out-loud funny in the beginning became increasingly tedious as the book wore on. In tone, Solar is vaguely reminiscent of Tom Sharpe's books, only darker and a whole lot more literary. A brilliant physicist in his younger days, who has been coasting for years on his one big breakthrough and the Nobel it earned him, Beard is a compulsive philanderer whose fifth marriage is on the rocks. Amoral and utterly selfish, Beard engages in a series of self-serving and self-destructive actions that grow increasingly predictable throughout the book, until the chickens come home to roost in the final segment. (It's worth noting that contrary to the promotional blurb, only the final third of the book is set in New Mexico. And a small gripe: McEwan could have used a little minor editing to eliminate the Britishisms in the dialogue of his American characters.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
McEwan is always fascinating. The first part of the book about a professor's "initiation" in a polar voyage is brilliant satire!Published 1 month ago by Raine
Solar was a good read; you almost feel sorry for Professor Beard, even though most of his woes are self-inflicted. The book was almost as good as Atonement.Published 2 months ago by John Ilija Ilijevic
Great book. Very funny and insightful into the current climate change culture which, like everything else, is about money, ego and power. Definitely one of McEwan's best.Published 3 months ago by True Review
The egotistical, successful Nobel-prize winner who is this novel's centerpiece is often comic as he fights, sometimes rashly, to keep self-knowledge at bay throughout a long turn... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jake Stanley
Solar was one of my book club reads for this month. I was pretty excited to start reading since I just read and loved Atonement, but unfortunately this book just was not as good. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jen R
hilarious, brilliant, and roger allum is one of hte few who's vioce is nice to hear, unlike most audio booksPublished 14 months ago by Gauhri
I really enjoyed this very disagreeable but sadly humorous main character. Yes, we've all been there, but hopefully we don't take it quite so far.Published 14 months ago by C. C. Selavy
This novel is a fascinating portrait of a man who on one hand is a genius and on the other hand a psychological disaster. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Johann David Renner
I love the author - but I could not get into this book of his.Published 14 months ago by Daniele Collignon