Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Reading Solar When the Weather's Gone Wacky

The weather is exceptional, spookily so. Ian McEwean's novel Solar is excellent reading for such a time. The hero (and I use the term advisedly) is a physicist Michael Beard who for complicated reasons because deeply involved in reseaching alternate energy sources, specifically solar power.

Beard is fat, grasping, unpleasant, and very funny. Creating him was a way for McEwan to talk about a depressingly serious subject, climate change, and not have the reader gag after 15 pages on an overdose of apple pie and mother's milk.

Thete's a lesson here to all writers: don't let your characters carry your message if you want the message to be received. Have them struggle with it as wel as their character faults. The result is a much better read than polemical fiction, and may actually reach people beyond the circle of the alrady-convinced.

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