Monday, June 2, 2008

Urban Legend in Ian McEwan Novel

http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,2283305,00.html

The Guardian [UK]
2 June 2008

McEwan sees funny side of climate change in novel reading

Judith Soal

[...] [Ian] McEwan, one of Britain's most celebrated novelists, surprised audiences at the Hay festival yesterday with an unexpected reading from his latest work, an as-yet unnamed novel about a scientist who hopes to save the planet. [...]

The novel's protagonist Michael Beard has been awarded a Nobel prize for his pioneering work on physics, and has discovered that winning the coveted prize has interfered with his work.

McEwan described Beard's constant struggle against "the thing he really wanted, which he did not want to want ... in this case, food". Describing Beard's pleasure at eating a crisp, he wrote: "The trick was to set the fragment at the centre of the tongue and, after a moment's spreading sensation, push the potato up hard to shatter against the roof of the mouth."

But Beard's reverie is interrupted when another man starts eating the crisps, setting up an intense but never quite realised confrontation. It is only when he arrives at the station that Beard realises that his crisps are still in his pocket, and that those he ate belonged to the man on the train.

McEwan said he overheard a version of this anecdote and decided to use it, only to be told by a member of the Hay audience that a similar incident, involving chocolate biscuits, appears in Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. [...]

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23801022-16947,00.html

The Australian
3 June 2008

Writer Ian McEwan's train tale may get shunted