Barbara A's Reviews > Solar

Solar by Ian McEwan
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's review
Mar 19, 2012

liked it
Read from March 14 to 18, 2012

So droll. So noxious. Can both be true?

Absolutely. When the central character is an overweight, over-sexed, amoral Nobel Laureate for physics, you can bet you're in for a gleeful ride. Existing primarily to take advantage of women and of boondoggles, Michael Beard is our personal guide into marital infidelity, academic jealousy and a complete lack of self-restraint. His free trip to the Arctic Circle, alone, is worth the price of the paperback.

This book is, as has been mentioned in virtually every review, a departure for McEwan, both stylistically and geographically. The last third of the book is set in New Mexico, and McEwan is clearly a fan of all this American, particularly our friendliness and our barbeque. "Solar" proves, without a doubt, that McEwan, one of my favorite authors, can take on dark comedy and satire remarkably well, but I don't think he should live there. Nothing, for me, will surpass the sentence in "Atonement" when, and I paraphrase, "...the playwright leaned her head on her mother's shoulder, not realizing that this would be her shining moment."

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