Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2 in 1 (catching up)

So I read Solar by Ian McEwan. After reading Atonement I discovered he had a new novel coming out, and immediately reserved it at my local public library. It took over two months to get it, but it was worth the wait. It is a very different novel; the ending doesn't really resolve much and the protagonist is someone you're really not meant to like but you end up feeling a grudging sympathy for him at some points.

Michael Beard is a Nobel-winning physicist whose best years are behind him and whose private life is incredibly complicated and ego incredibly large. This leads to some hilarious passages. In one, he is forced to pee outside during a Spitsbergen winter - as one reviewer said, I defy any male to read this without shuddering.

And I read The Black Tower, one of the P.D. James paperbacks I bought from a flea market.  It's an early Adam Dalgleish novel, from 1975; I was amused to see that as far back as that he was already thinking about hanging up the holster, as he so often is in the later books. These early P.D. James books remind me somewhat of an Agatha Christie novel; I mean, TYPEWRITER evidence? They seem quaint yet not outdated; the story and characters are still fresh. In this one, Dalgleish receives a letter inviting him to visit an old family friend who he hasn't seen in years. On arrival, he finds his friend has died in circumstances that, of course, aren't as straightforward as they appear.

The usual twists and surprises occur... don't want to give them away.