Teaser Tuesday – Solar by Ian McEwan

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be ReadingShare a couple or more sentences from the book you’re currently reading.

I started to read Solar by Ian McEwan on Saturday. I’ve borrowed it from the library and on Saturday I discovered I couldn’t renew it because someone had reserved it. It’s due back tomorrow and I really wanted to read it.  So I stopped reading Gone to Earth and Agatha Christie’s Autobiography (my current books) to concentrate solely on Solar.

I think it’s a strange juxtaposition of the story of a scientist, Michael Beard, a Nobel Prize winning physicist whose fifth marriage has failed, set against a scientific background. I love it when McEwan writes sentences such as this on page 8:

Then her absence hung in the summer dusk like garden bonfire smoke, an erotic charge of invisible particulates that caused him to remain in position for many pointless minutes. He was not actually mad, he kept telling himself, but he thought he was getting a taste, a bitter sip.

And I also am full of admiration for his detailed description of Beard sitting opposite a stranger in a train, both eating salt and vinegar crisps from the same packet:

Inevitably the second crisp was less piquant, less surprising, less penetrating than the first and it was precisely this shortfall, this sensual disappointment, that prompted the need, familiar to drug addicts, to increase the dose. He would eat two crisps at once. (page 123)

But he loses me somewhat with sentences like this:

Without the ‘entexting’ tools the scientists used – the single-photon luminometer, the flow cytometer, immunofluorescence, and so on – the gene could not be said to exist. (page 131)

As I haven’t finished this book yet it’s too soon to decide what I think of it, but so far I’m liking it, despite those words I have only a vague idea about their meanings. Parts of it actually made me laugh out loud, at the morbid humour, but I wonder if it could have done without the science and stood just as well as a story about an ageing, womanising, narcissistic, overweight and food-obsessed man.

10 thoughts on “Teaser Tuesday – Solar by Ian McEwan

  1. I have never been able to get into McEwan and I think it’s because of too many instances of the third teaser and because I don’t generally like his characters.


  2. Oh I know exactly the person to give such a book to! He might only understand the scientific sentences though. hahaha. One to add to my tbr list for sure.


  3. Sounds like a good book to read with me eReader because you can tap on any word and its definition is displayed. Alas I actually have this one in audio format – I have listened to most of McEwan’s books because he is such a master of words and when you get right down to it great words are meant to be spoken aloud. I still haven’t gotten around to reading it though.


  4. Hi Margaret,
    This is not my type of book, but I know someone who would really enjoy it, scientific jargon and all.

    I loved the first couple of teasers, they really made me smile, very astute with the dry wit that I love.


  5. I’ve only read Atonement but I’m eager to read another McEwan. The sciency stuff does sound a bit much, but the elegance of the other two teasers more than outweigh than for me.


  6. Hmmm … interesting. I’m not sure whether I will read more McEwan or not. I’ve admired some of his books in the past, but at a certain point, I feel like I’ve read enough of a particular author. I think I’ve read or listened to four of his novel so far. That’s a lot, at least for me.


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