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Solar by Ian McEwan
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Solar (original 2010; edition 2011)

by Ian McEwan

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2,3651202,661 (3.31)172
Member:srdr
Title:Solar
Authors:Ian McEwan
Info:Anchor (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 332 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:fiction, UK

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Solar by Ian McEwan (2010)

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» See also 172 mentions

English (97)  Dutch (6)  French (4)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (2)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (120)
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
My brain couldn't quite keep up with the physics but oh dear me the story of Michael Beard----what a character to behold!! There are a few incredible laugh out loud pieces---almost place holders in Beard's life and then you reach the moment when everything sort of comes to pass and there is Beard---seeing everything come at him at once. Can you like Beard and/or sympathize in any way with his character? He is such a beautifully crafted character---and listening to him speak, in the audio by Roger Allam, is truly wonderful. ( )
  nyiper | Jun 21, 2014 |
Darkly satirical in a way that worked, for me, in Amsterdam but flounders in the format of this much longer work. I don't need a sympathetic main character but I won't deny some glimmer of humanity can help. Such a thorough ass really requires an impeccably well-written story to maintain my interest, and this ain't one. There are a few amusing set-pieces and some interesting observations on the state of the planet and its inhabitants but they are lost in endless pages of sadly rather boring writing. ( )
  Vivl | Jun 6, 2014 |
Ian McEwan's "Solar" reads much better as a study in the micro echoing the macro than for the story itself. The writing struggles to be humorous, but ends up feeling more pathetic, tragic, and ultimately embarrassing in many sections.

The redemption for this novel is the postscript at the end, which is the text of the Nobel Committee's speech given when the protagonist won his Nobel Prize (long before the action of the book). The prize was for a discovery of the way that tightly bound matter can be unraveled under the right conditions. And that's just what happens to the protagonist. His whole life is spent tying himself in knots, until all the loose ends threaten to tie him down at the end of the story. Somehow, a loose thread is pulled and his concerns (and his life) come undone.

I also enjoyed how the protagonist enumerated all the problems with getting the world to convert to an alternative energy source, and then proceeded to exemplify those problems in his personal life. Greed, selfishness, impatience, indifference, belief in one answer to solve all the problems. These were all traits of his personal life and his relationships. He tried to overcome these traits in others to introduction easy cheap energy to the world, but ultimately failed due, I believe, to his inability to overcome them himself.

I wouldn't recommend this to someone who hasn't read McEwan before. This is far from his best. Stick with "Atonement" or "Saturday" before tackling this non-story with a message. ( )
  sbloom42 | May 21, 2014 |
Solar
by Ian McEwan
narrated by Roger Allam
(P) 2010, Recorded Books
11 hours, 50 minutes
(includes interview between the author and his editor)

This isn’t so much a review as it is a witness testimony, not like on a court stand, but more like what you might see and hear at a religious revival! I admit that, in the past , I have committed the literary sin of not “getting” Ian McEwan. I read On Chesil Beach and Saturday with due diligence and lit-fic sobriety. In doing so, I was underwhelmed by the prose and declared McEwan “overrated” in rendering the psychological thriller to nothing more than a Tale of Anxiety (and at that, of a white older male variety!)

Then, I saw the light. Someone here on LT (and I'm sorry I cannot remember who!) mentioned that they had heard Ian McEwan read an excerpt from On Chesil Beach out loud with comic flair! And that the audience was not only enthralled, but laughing along with him! Hmmm, perhaps if I hadn’t dismissed my own sense of humour and replaced it with self-righteous literary pretensions, I might have enjoyed On Chesil Beach, and come to think of it, Saturday more than I had. With that in mind, I picked up Solar which I had heard was supposed to be pretty funny. Admittedly, I had also heard that this was not McEwan’s best and, as a validation of that opinion, it was not nominated for a ManBooker award. So it kind of figures, considering the high rate of ironic incidences in my life, that the McEwan that no one seems to like is the one that I absolutely adore!

The story features Michael Beard, a Nobel laureate who, when we meet him in his early fifties, is wallowing around in the collapse of his fifth marriage, a deteriorating body, and work in physics that is neither intellectually stimulating nor rewarding. The whole of Solar takes place over the course of about ten years (1999-2009) in which we watch Michael Beard muck his way around and through relationships, work and his health, always holding onto the promise of the next chapter in his life. It would be very easy to attach a lot of symbolic import to various artifices in the novel; but after listening to the interview of the author with his editor, you realize that, in doing so, you would be projecting too much into the novel. It is what it is and; what it is is a very honest portrayal of a man with all the absurdist elements that that may imply. Perhaps those who don’t like this novel don’t want to acknowledge that Michael Beard is very much an Everyman and, by default themselves; but I found common cause with the character for being flawed. Rather than finding Michael Beard an unlikable character, I was morbidly fascinated with his ability to have gotten as far as he had. I often found myself cheering for Michael even while admitting that he brought on most of his problems himself.

Roger Allam is a British narrator who delivered Ian McEwan’s novel flawlessly. The production uses British pronunciations, which may sound awkward to American ears, but it does not interfere with the understanding or enjoyment of the story. Allam reads the book “straight,” without comic intonations and also without dropping into the deadly neutral zone :-)

I loved Solar and I can’t wait to read McEwan’s next novel! ( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Feb 10, 2014 |
A very interesting work with twists that I wasn't expecting. However, there were no characters in the book that I actually liked. All were rather repulsive. ( )
  KamGeb | Jan 11, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
Despite the book’s somber, scientific backdrop (and global warming here is little but that), “Solar” is Mr. McEwan’s funniest novel yet — a novel that in tone and affect often reads more like something by Zoë Heller or David Lodge. Like “Amsterdam,” this latest book shows off his gifts as a satirist, but while it gets off to a rollicking start, its plot machinery soon starts to run out of gas, sputtering and stalling as it makes its way from one comic set piece to another.
 
Beard is as robust and full-fleshed and ebullient a character as McEwan has come up with. And in Solar, he shows a side to himself as a writer — a puckishness, a broadness of humour, an extravagance of style — that we haven’t seen before.
 
But as this is McEwan, the laughs fade away. The denouement of Solar in sunny New Mexico is not predictable but is predictably bleak, and my only reservation about the novel is that the end is a bit of a jolt, the brakes are applied rather forcefully. But perhaps this is because McEwan is planning Solar II. I hope so because I rather like Michael Beard.
 
McEwan writes sentences of such witty elegance that the loss of John Updike seems a little easier to bear. But as a whole, this comedy about a venal scientist never generates the tension one expects from the Booker Prize-winning author of "Amsterdam" and "Atonement."
 
According to the perverse aesthetics of artistic guilty pleasure, certain books and movies are so bad — so crudely conceived, despicably motivated and atrociously executed — that they’re actually rather good. “Solar,” the new novel by Ian McEwan, is just the opposite: a book so good — so ingeniously designed, irreproachably high-minded and skillfully brought off — that it’s actually quite bad. Instead of being awful yet absorbing, it’s impeccable yet numbing, achieving the sort of superbly wrought inertia of a Romanesque cathedral. There’s so little wrong with it that there’s nothing particularly right about it, either. It’s impressive to behold but something of a virtuous pain to read.
 

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ian McEwanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dean, SuzanneCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olcina, EmiliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"It gives him great pleasure, makes Rabbit feel right, to contemplate the world's wastings, to know the earth is mortal too."

Rabbit is Rich, John Updike
Dedication
To Polly Bide
1949-2003
First words
He belonged to that class of men - vaguely unprepossessing, often bald, short, fat, clever - who were unaccountably attractive to certain beautiful women.
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La Edad de Piedra no terminó a causa de la escasez de piedras.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385533411, Hardcover)

The literary event of the season: a new novel from Ian McEwan, as surprising as it is masterful.

Michael Beard is 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 initiative tackling global warming. While he coasts along in his professional life, Michael’s personal life is another matter entirely. His fifth marriage is crumbling under the weight of his infidelities. But this time the tables are turned: His wife is having an affair, and Michael realizes he is still in love with her.

When Michael’s personal and professional lives begin to intersect in unexpected ways, an opportunity presents itself in the guise of an invitation to travel to New Mexico. Here is a chance for him to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster. Can a man who has made a mess of his life clean up the messes of humanity?

A complex novel that brilliantly traces the arc of one man’s ambitions and self-deceptions, Solar is a startling, witty, and stylish new work from one of the world’s great writers.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:33 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

When Nobel prize-winning physicist Michael Beard's personal and professional lives begin to intersect in unexpected ways, an opportunity presents itself in the guise of an invitation to travel to New Mexico. Here is a chance for him to extricate himself from his marital problems, reinvigorate his career, and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster.… (more)

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