Monday, 27 December 2010

Yet more snow reading

Well, it was a panic buy.  It was a few days before Christmas and I was determined to buy some NEW books.  Not re-issues of the favourites (which is what I normally end up doing) and it was freezing cold. Bone achingly cold.  The sort of cold that you only go out in if you have to (lack of chocolate or the dog looking so pleadingly at you that you give in. Of course, then there is the joy in knowing that you have deserved the spiced rum tea that you are going to have when you return.) Anyway, so there I was, muffled up to my neck in many layers of very unflattering winter wear in front of the Waterstones 3 for 2 table.  Cold hands and cold feet were troubling me, as well as the fact that I didn't see any books that I really REALLY wanted, but then, 3 for 2 is pretty irresistible, isn't it?  Though I do draw the line at practically anything set in Australia or that has soldiers in it.  Yes, I know... but I can't help it.  I was enviously thinking of last year when I was in Argentina for the whole of Christmas, or my friend who was off on the Nile this year and wishing that it wasn't so damn cold, when this jumped out to me.  The cover alone in the sorry state I was in made me glow.  So, overcoming my book blindness I grabbed two others and joined the queue.
Now, I am aware that Ian McEwan has legions of fans, but I'm not really one of them, his books have always been a bit so-so for me.  But I buckled down with the spiced tea and concentrated.  For t'is about a prize winning physicist, Michael Beard.  Physics.  PHYSICS. 
Now I should tell you at this point that I was allowed to go to the library during maths at grammar school (highly illegal I suspect, and would never be allowed now) but back in the days it was probably just a whole lot easier than having a 'disruptive influence' in the bottom stream of a maths class.  I never even got to physics. Or algebra.  Or Chemistry - though there was an incident of a small explosion that even now I shall gloss over.
So, my heart wasn't really in it, but I persevered - mainly thanks to the hideous weather outside and the Foursquare spiced rum in black earl grey - I urge you try it... And I'm so glad I did. There are two incidents in the book that had me spluttering with laughter into my tea cup.  Our hero Michael Beard (small, podgy, six times married, greedy and with a good line in self deception) is on the back of a skidoo in the arctic attending a global warming conference and he is in desperate need of a wee.  I shan't say any more, but it had me roaring with laughter.  Oh, that and an incident on a train with a stranger and a bag of crisps.

His worlds collide and involve an accidental death, journeys to the Arctic Circle and New Mexico, an unwanted (by him) pregnancy of his girlfriend and yes, there IS quite a bit of physics thrown in.  But even I could grasp it.  Funny and thoughtful and wry and provoking.  Do give it a go.
Now, I'm going to put the kettle on again.  Spiced tea anyone?

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