I loved this. The main character was hideously wonderful. The narrator was wonderful. My favorite McEwan yet.
When a nobel-prizewinning physicist turns out to be a really nasty piece of work, driven by ambition, greed and the bottle, anything can happen, and in Ian McEwan's capable hands, almost everything does, and as cleverly as an Einsteinian equation. Near the beginning, the main character Michael Beard seems to lose his penis in a freak accident, and I was never sure how he recovered. (I must have coughed when this situation was rectified.) But recover he did since his use of it later in the story seldom let up. Beard is clearly a flawed genius, and I was reminded that human society often foolishly asks advice on wide ranging topics from individuals who have made a mark in just one speciality. We ask pop singers for their opinions on politics. Bob Dylan wrote 'Don't follow leaders' and I suppose I just dented his credibility, but I think this was what he was getting at. McEwan has used the novel to make a number of valid philosophical, behavioural and scientific points, the latter mainly about the environment, global warming and clean energy. I will forever see every leaf as a solar panel. When Beard facilitates jail time for murder for a rival for his wife's affections - when no murder was committed - he reveals the depths of his depravity, which allows him to commit massive intellectual plagiarism without a hint of remorse. Brilliant brain; heart of the devil. Very original story.
What has happened to Ian McEwan and where is his editor? After truly loving Atonement, for me there just hasn't been another decent novel . I just didn't find this a comic story - probably didn't help that the antihero was truely ghastly and I could not and did not care for him at all - you don't have to like a character but I believe you have to care what happens to him and I didn't.
The author appears conflicted between writing a novel aobut global warming and extra marital affairs of the main charactor. The result is pretty much a disaster which is unfortuanate because the original premise regarding global warming was interesting. The affairs not. 3 of 10 stars
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