Book report: Solar

I usually find Ian McEwan's books to be rapid page-turning affairs where I hold my breath and am hurtled along with characters and plots so beautifully integrated with science or fact that they're rendered completely lifelike, relatable and sympathetic.

Solar missed that instant hook that I identify with McEwan's writing. I didn't read it as a comic novel, though I did smile at some of the passages, but they seemed more pitiful foibles than thigh-slapping comedy. And I didn't like Michael Beard, the hero of the book, much at the outset and most of the way through the book. Nor did I grow to like him, but I did grow to appreciate the reality of him. In particular, this passage struck me as especially human and related to a lot of what I've been thinking about regarding change and epistemology:

"...he was beginning to understand that, barring accidents, life did not change. He had been deluded. He had always assumed that a time would come in adulthood, a kind of plateau, when he would have learned all the tricks of managing, of simply being. All mail and emails answered, all papers in order, books alphabetically on the shelves, clothes and shoes in good repair in the wardrobes and all his stuff where he could find it, with the past, including its letters and photographs, sorted into boxes and files, the private life settled and serene, accommodation and finances likewise. In all these years this settlement, the calm plateau, never appeared, and yet he continued to assume, without reflecting on the matter, that it was just around the next turn, when he would exert himself and reach it, that moment when his life became clear and his mind free, when his grown-up existence could properly begin."

In the end, Solar isn't one of McEwan's best books, but I'm glad I read it.If you haven't read any McEwan, I loved Enduring Love the most.
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