Michael Beard is in his late fifties; bald, overweight, unprepossessing — a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Michael Beard is in his late fifties; bald, overweight, unprepossessing — a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. An inveterate philanderer, Beard finds his fifth marriage floundering. But this time it is different: she is having the affair, and he is still in love with her. When Beard's professional and personal worlds are entwined in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself, a chance for Beard to extricate himself from his marital mess, reinvigorate his career and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster. With a global scope, Solar is a comedy dealing directly with the crises of today. A story of one man's ambitions and self-deceptions, it is a startling and stylish new departure in the work of one of the world's great writers.
“Beard was surprised to find how complicated it was to be the cuckold. Misery was not simple. Let no one say that this late in life he was immune to fresh experience.”
“No woman had ever looked or sounded so desirable as the wife he suddenly could not have.”
“Physics was free of human taint; it described a world that would still exist if men and women and all their sorrows did not. In this conviction he was at one with Albert Einstein.”
This was what he disliked about political people—injustice and calamity animated them, it was their milk, their lifeblood, it pleasured them.Highlighted by 78 Kindle customers
There was an Old Testament ring to the forewarnings, an air of plague-of-boils and deluge-of-frogs, that suggested a deep and constant inclination, enacted over the centuries, to believe that one was always living at the end of days, that one’s own demise was urgently bound up with the end of the world and therefore made more sense, or was just a little less irrelevant.Highlighted by 73 Kindle customers
He knew it too well, the special kind of mental suffocation that came from contact with aggressive low intelligence.Highlighted by 72 Kindle customers
Quantum mechanics. What a repository, a dump, of human aspiration it was, the borderland where mathematical rigor defeated common sense, and reason and fantasy irrationally merged. Here the mystically inclined could find whatever they required and claim science as their proof.Highlighted by 52 Kindle customers
How were they to save the earth—assuming it needed saving, which he doubted—when it was so much larger than the boot room?Highlighted by 49 Kindle customers
The essence of a crank was, first, to believe that all the world’s problems could be reduced to one and be solved. And second, to go on about it nonstop.Highlighted by 49 Kindle customers
Human imperfection was a large subject. Consider just a few of the defects. S-shaped backs that easily buckled, breathing and swallowing recklessly sharing a passage, the infectious proximity of sex and excretion, childbirth pure agony, testicles unwieldy and vulnerable, weak eyesight a general affliction, an immune system that could devour its owner. And that was just the body. Among all the yearning rationales for the godhead, the argument from design collapsed with Homo sapiens. No god worth his salt could be so careless at the workbench.Highlighted by 47 Kindle customers
monothematic, stricken. His fifth marriage was disintegrating, and he should have known how to behave, how to take the long view, how to take the blame. Weren’t marriages, his marriages, tidal, with one rolling out just before another rolled in? But this one was different. He did not know how to behave, long views pained him, and for once there was no blame for him to assume, as he saw it. It was his wife who was having the affair, and having it flagrantly, punitively,Highlighted by 26 Kindle customers
He belonged to that class of men—vaguely unprepossessing, often bald, short, fat, clever—who were unaccountably attractive to certain beautiful women. Or he believed he was, and thinking seemed to make it so. And it helped that some women believed he was a genius in need of rescue. But the Michael Beard of this time was a man of narrowed mental condition, anhedonic,Highlighted by 17 Kindle customers
douleur redoubled, because he knew she knew he was watching. Then her absence hung in the summer dusk like garden bonfire smoke, an erotic charge of invisible particulates that caused him to remain in position for many pointless minutes.Highlighted by 17 Kindle customers
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