July 19, 2010

Solar, by Ian McEwan

I first found out about this book's existence when I saw it on sale in a Reykjavik bookstore, the Icelandic equivalent of a Chapters. We'd gone in to relax and have a hot drink in the inevitable Icelandic version of a Starbucks that was inside. The book was in English and I was thrilled to see it, but the prohibitive exchange rate made me cool my heels. I'd still be cooling those heels waiting for my library request to come in if my boss hadn't mentioned he was devouring it and I could borrow it when he was done.

I guess I feel a bit let down by Solar. It's not as awesome as Atonement or On Chesil Beach or even Saturday. It was certainly brave of McEwan to make his main character so thoroughly unlikeable. I couldn't stand Michael Beard, the philandering, greedy, lying, increasingly obese, Nobel Prize-winning protagonist. I did have a few good laughs at his expense though. There's one scene in particular, involving flesh sticking to cold metal, that had me howling. Again as in Saturday, the author clearly put a lot of work into research, as a lot of science is explained.

I didn't like the end very much. My boss told me his opinion of what happened, which if that's what McEwan indeed meant to imply, went right over my head. Like in many of his other books, an appendix is used, but I felt this one wasn't very enlightening.

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