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Solar

3.2 of 5 stars 3.20  ·  rating details  ·  14,246 ratings  ·  2,047 reviews
An engrossing, satirical and very funny new novel on climate change.

Michael Beard is in his late fifties; bald, overweight, unprepossessing — a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a government-backed
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Vintage Canada (first published January 1st 2010)
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brian
ian mcewan hates you, dear reader.
have no illusions.
the guy flings more shit and pukes more bile in solar than g.g. allin ever dared dream.

check it: mcewan dazzles in select passages, but the sum ain't always more than its parts -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing. those perfect books with clearly defined themes, succinct, streamlined… yuk. you can have 'em. we like the meandering messes, shot to shit with all the baggage. but at the end of the slop… we've gotta feel something, it's gotta
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Manny
Jun 25, 2012 Manny rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ian McEwan addicts
The novel is completed. He has posted the bulky typescript to his publisher - old-fashioned, he prefers this unnecessary gesture to the casual economy of e-mailing a PDF - and now he is free of the tormented inner voice telling him to reword, rejig, rewrite, rethink.

He knows it is not as good as his earlier books, which sometimes feel as though they were written by a near stranger, by a person he only half-remembers being. He has poured some of his confusion and disappointment into the novel's
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Kemper
The main character in Solar can’t control his appetites. He eats like Jabba the Hut at a casino buffet, drinks like an alcoholic fish and chases women every chance he gets. He’s also an unorganized slob who would rather just travel or stay somewhere else rather than clean up his own living space. On top of being greedy, opportunistic, selfish and lazy, he has no regard for the future. He can rationalize any potential warning signs of health issues or unpleasant business he’d rather not deal with ...more
Jessica
Aug 31, 2010 Jessica rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who won't drink martin amis neat; swingers
Shelves: aborted-efforts
So I imagine young novelists are a promiscuous bunch. Writers play around and flirt with all manner of novels: date one genre for a few months before finding it oppressive.... move in too quickly with a voice that turns out to be all wrong for them.... have one-night stands with forms that are way too experimental. And I'm sure it's great fun for awhile, but it's not what they're ultimately after. No novelist wants to play the field forever! And some do find that special novel early, while for o ...more
Mal
I was reading in bed last night--I was a little more than half-way through--and it hit me: it is taking way too long to read this thing. Why? Not because it's a big book, or particularly difficult to understand, but because it is so boring. I dread opening it each day so I put it off. I read anything else. I closed it and tossed it aside. I'm done. I'll go find a new one tomorrow at the library.

It's really disappointing too, because when I read the premise, it sounded great! But McEwan spends s
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David
Nobel Laureate in Physics Michael Beard is a truly revolting piece of work: a slave to his appetites, whose progress through the novel is just one orgiastic frenzy of wenching, gourmandizing self-indulgence because, after all, curbing his sybaritic excess would just be too .... inconvenient. If you think it's a stroke of genius by Ian McEwan to use this troglodyte as a heavy-handed symbol of the kind of behavior that's causing global warming, then good for you. Let me know if you still feel that ...more
Cynthia
A Nobel winning physicist is approaching the descending side of his life. Michael Beard’s had five wives with each marriage leaving a bigger pile of emotional junk in its wake. He can’t or won’t grow up. He just stays in motion hoping it will all sort itself out. It doesn’t. It gets worse. By the end of the book there are sweltering piles of personal and professional cacao threatening to fall on him.

In classic McEwen style there is a pivot incident that changes or enhances the trajectory of Bear
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Noce
Non posso dire che non mi sia piaciuto, ma non sto nemmeno stappando lo champagne.

Andiamo per ordine.

McEwan stilisticamente parlando è a dir poco brillante.
Anche se parlasse della passeggiata col suo cane, riuscirebbe a far resuscitare i morti con quelle sue frasi che sembrano buttate così a caso, come quando di getto si tira giù la lista della spesa, ma che sono dissacranti, taglienti e ironiche, e a maggior ragione illuminanti. E vi assicuro, che raggiungere questi risultati tutti insieme,
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: two grudging stars of five (p81)

In the middle of a paragraph, a thunderbolt struck me: I don't like Ian MxEwan. I didn't like Atonement...I thought the damned kid shoulda been stoned...I didn't like Saturday...and I do NOT like this tedious tale of a credit-grabbing bore of a has-been.

So that's that. Like David Lodge, I shall leave the McEwanizing to the Brits and their fellow travelers. I myownself will be hornswoggled if I EVER consent to open another of his books.

Rating: 4* of five

The
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Maia
For days I've been trying to think all the reasons why this novel disappointed me so much, even as I was one of the many in our bookclub to enthusiastically vote it for our April read. Normally I quite enjoy Ian McEwan, though other than On Chesil Beach, his books--even when I admire them--leave me with a tingling sense of annoyance that I never before understood.

Until I read today's excellent NY Times review, which, summed up, pretty much labels it an overwritten, overstretched 'too-good' novel
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Marc Maitland
This is Ian McEwan’s latest novel. It is by far the funniest of his writings, and some of the scenes he vividly paints literally had me laughing out aloud. I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing any of these miniature masterpieces, but they combine an acute awareness of human nature, double-entrendre and irony that have long been the hallmarks of authors such as Michael Frayn.





The “hero” of the novel is an inherently unlikeable person, rich in the unattractive traits of a certain type of self-i
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Paul
This is the first McEwan I have read (not sure how I’ve avoided him up till now, because I have a few on my shelf waiting to be read). It was a fairly easy read, but I admit I wasn’t impressed, even though McEwan writes well. It is supposed to be satire and comedy and I know the protagonist, Michael Beard is not supposed to be likeable (that bit is successful), but for me the whole did not work.
The novel is in three sections set in 2000, 2005 and 2009 seeing Beard move from 53 to 62; from the de
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Michael
Great satire of a scientist who is all too human in his appetites, insecurities, and problems in relationships. The protagonist, Michael Beard, is a Nobel laureate in quantum physics who has run out of ideas and bumbles through marriage after marriage, a lovable misanthrope and solipsist. McEwan portrays very realistically how such a physicist might hitch his sail to the movement for renewable energy, artificial photosynthesis in particular. We root for him as his personal disasters threaten his ...more
Ellie
It's been well-documented that Michael Beard, the protagonist of Ian McEwan's novel, Solar, is one of McEwan's more unlikable characters. But then I think that McEwan generally likes the unlikable-I find Briony from Atonement close to unbearable, completely so after she's grown. I can hardly think of a character of his that I actually like.

Despite this, I like McEwan very much. His writing is near pitch-perfect. And there's something freeing in seeing the seedier side of humanity at the center
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Kernos
I was disappointed and surprised with this novel. I was disappointed since I expected much more from McEwan's prose and because this novel spent so much time on Beard's love life and gluttony, which bored me. It surprised me as the science and the problems of a scientist's career peaking early were done so well by someone with McEwan's apparent background. This was the 1st of his books I've read, but was familiar with his reputation.

The book has 2 threads—anthropomorphic climate change and Bear
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Tony
McEwan, Ian. SOLAR. (2010). *****. Mr. McEwan has done it again – created the perfect novel that explores a man’s life and life work. This time, his subject is Michael Beard. Dr. Beard is a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist who won the prize by elucidating and expanding on one of Einstein’s basic theoretical proposals. This work was done when he was in his twenties. Now, it’s twenty years later and he hasn’t been able to anything of any note since. He has been living off his past glory b ...more
Hezza H
I think my first Goodreads review has to be defending this old favourite, which is absolutely in my top three Ian McEwan books and also my top twenty books ever. You're not interested in me, but when someone who reads a significant amount has a book among their all-time favourites that book must have some redeeming qualities, I find.

Solar is the story of Michael Beard. Michael Beard has been characterised among reviewers and Ian McEwan fans as "obnoxious", and they say this ruins the book, becau
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DJ TweakyClean
I admit that I probably should not have picked this book up after reading "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." I was halfway through this novel, when all I could think about was how much I wanted to start "The Girl Who Played With Fire." The issue ultimately though, I realized when I finished this was that, where McEwan has created characters in the past for whom I find to be reprehensible (Atonement) or just plain idiotic (Amsterdam), I still find myself compelled and even emotionally connected i ...more
Hanneke
'Solar' van Ian McEwan is een satirische roman en wijkt af van al zijn voorgaande boeken, die meestal toch behoorlijk macaber zijn. Het was echt een verrassing voor me dat McEwan enorm hilarisch kan schrijven. Het boek heeft de bestrijding van klimaatverandering als thema, maar op werkelijk idealisme kan men de hoofdpersoon niet betrappen. Professor Beard verleent zijn naam aan deze goede zaak alleen maar als hij er zelf beter van wordt. De professor is een volstrekt immorele persoon die al meer ...more
Teresa
As I started the second part of this book, I started wondering if this could end up being the first McEwan book that I didn't like at all. But I also had the feeling that I could trust him, and I was right to do so -- the 'bad' feeling quickly went away.

Some of the humor was not to my liking, in particular a slapstick-y episode early on and a 'gross-out' scene later on. But the latter wasn't too bad, considering, and I still could appreciate how well done the former was. A few things later on s
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Elizabeth Marshall
Another masterpiece from the brilliant Ian McEwan. I decided to start reading this book because I read 'Atonement', loved it and wanted to read more by this author. 'Solar' is a witty, compelling and fascinating novel about a complicated physicist, Michael Beard, riding the wave of fame and success that came from his younger self's achievement, a Nobel prize, with his best work well and truly behind him. We join Beard on the brink of his sixth divorce and the start of his begrudged pursuit to so ...more
Seth
Ian McEwan is one of my favorite authors--reading the words he writes is a real pleasure. He has an incredible command of the language, and he is able to describe things in concise, engaging, and humorous ways. Solar was no different--it's very easy to fall into the world of Michael Beard and understand what makes him tick as he goes through the misadventures of his life. Some parts got a little bogged down in technical details, but McEwan knows his stuff and makes his presentation enjoyable eve ...more
Agnes Benis
This book was amazing. It is a dark satire about modern man, the environment, intellectual property etc. The main character embodies the worst of human traits, but the reader can recognize smidges of character traits which in their exaggeration become funny. For example, when he goes through customs and gets an agent who is going to go by the book and the impatience and Why Me? attitude of main character. Or his promises to diet. (forgotten his name) He is the most selfish, narcissistic, guiltle ...more
Zoe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shelah
Whenever a new Ian McEwan book comes out, I look forward to taking the opportunity to sit down and just luxuriate in his writing. Oh my goodness, he is such a beautiful writer. And his characters. I could go on and on about how rich his characters are. They (to use a hackneyed cliche that Jasper Fforde has made a career out of twisting around) jump off the page. When I heard that Solar was being released, I was quick to reserve it at the library, and as soon as I got the "items you requested bei ...more
Lori (Hellian)
This started off just great, and McEwan sure can write! McEwan knows that his character is an awful human being, and through him we can see so much of what is wrong with present day. His descriptions can be quite funny, especially when it comes to Michael Beard's relationship with food! But the main character is so gross and despicable, suddenly I just didn't want to read about him anymore so skipped to the end. I did get at least 2/3 of the way through.
Stringy
Protagonist? Unrepentant arsehole. Plot? Minimalist. Ending? Unresolved, almost a cliffhanger. This is really a 2.5 star rating: normally I'm fine with being forced to choose between 2 or 3, but I just can't with this one.

I'd been meaning to read some Ian McEwan for a while, but didn't pick any up until Tim Minchin (excellent comedian, check him out) raved about Solar.

The main character, Michael Beard, might just be the world's last best hope. He's clever and resourceful and has come across a r
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T. Edmund
I’ve developed a bad habit of reading straight into novels without reading the blurbs. I do this from some perverse need to avoid not only all spoilers but also to study the writing fully without colouring my expectations with the synoptic blurb.


However when picking up Solar I regretted doing this. Sometimes I miss the point of the novel completely because there is something included in the blurb that explains what is going on. Not like plot pieces but something about the intention of the book,
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Oscar
'Solar' no se parece a ninguno de los libros que he leído anteriormente de Ian McEwan. En él te encuentras grandes dosis de humor, inglés, por supuesto, llenas de ironía y sátira, muy del estilo del gran David Lodge. En mi recuerdo quedará el viaje que realiza el protagonista al Ártico, parte en la que es inevitable soltar alguna que otra carcajada.

La historia está protagonizada por Michael Beard, de unos cincuenta años, físico teórico y ganador del Premio Nobel hace unos años por su contribució
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Yvann S
Summary: Michael Beard, Nobel Laureate physicist, is suffering from a slide into middle-aged mediocrity, academic impotence and marital strife. The fight against climate change starts to consume his academic life, but his private life stays pretty messy.

There was a phenomenal amount of chat about this in the blogosphere – so much so that at least one blogger commented that it was quite off-putting to have everyone talking about one book simultaneously. There were pretty mixed feelings (list of r
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Ian McEwan was born on 21 June 1948 in Aldershot, England. He studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970. He received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last
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More about Ian McEwan...
Atonement Saturday On Chesil Beach Sweet Tooth Amsterdam

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“Being late was a special kind of modern suffering, with blended elements of rising tension, self-blame, self-pity, misanthropy, and a yearning for what could not be had outside theoretical physics: time reversal.” 7 likes
“The past had shown him many times that the future would be its own solution.” 4 likes
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