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The Man Who Ate the 747 Hardcover – 20 Oct 2000

3.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 20 Oct 2000
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First edition edition (20 Oct. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330482114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330482110
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,948,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

This is a delightful first novel by Ben Sherwood, despite its risible title. JJ Smith is a very average guy who deals in very extraordinary facts. JJ "authenticates greatness" as the assiduous and obsessive Keeper of Records for The Book of Records, travelling the world to verify the longest piece of apple peel, the heaviest weights attached to a human's ears, the longest flight of a champagne cork and so on. JJ's life is orderly and safe but threatened with turmoil by an ambitious boss who wants bigger records. Desperately pursuing obscure leads, JJ stumbles upon "the most incredible record attempt, ever". A farmer by the name of Wally Chubb in Superior, Nebraska, is eating an abandoned Boeing 747 to prove his love for the beautiful editor of the local newspaper, Willa Wyatt. This is JJ's opportunity to save his job, but as he seduces the town into embracing the media frenzy that comes with the attempt at the extraordinary record, JJ finds his own feeling changing as he finds himself drawn to Willa, and a serious conflict of interests.

In the process, and looking back on the bizarre events surrounding Wally's attempt to eat the 747, JJ reflects, "I once believed the wonders of the world could be measured, calculated, and quantified. Not anymore". The Man who Ate the 747 is a gentler, almost old-fashioned comic novel of the triumph of small-town values over metropolitan arrogance. It's an old story but Sherwood tells it with deftness and humour. --Jerry Brotton.


"Ben Sherwood is an amazing writer with the rare gift of evoking genuine emotion. The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is touching, wise, and full of hope, everything a wonderful novel should be. Read it - you'll be glad you did."
--Nicholas Sparks, bestselling author
""The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud" is one of the most magical love stories I've ever read. In his wonderfully inventive way, Ben Sherwood has written a shining affirmation of life."
-- Sue Monk Kidd, author of "The Secret Life of Bees"
"Loved it, loved it, loved it!! Refreshingly romantic, dangerously good fun, hugely addictive. All too infrequently I pick up a book that is a pure pleasure to read....Intelligent, moving, and sweetly wise, Ben Sherwood is all set to find his way into the soft heart of American literature."
--Joanne Harris, author of "Chocolat"
"Sweet and inspirational.... [with] humor all his own."
--"The Daily News" (NY)

"From the Hardcover edition." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 3 Jan. 2001
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book - perfect reading for a quick pick me up. The story is set in a small town in Nebraska, USA. The town, aptly named Superior, is completely disrupted by the arrival of The Keeper of Records (from The Book of Records), who comes out to the town after receiving a mysterious letter from The Man Who Knows claiming that there is a man in Superior who is in the process of eating a boeing. Bored by recent records like the splitting a human hair in 18 parts and the fastest snail over 13 inches, this is too hard to resist. Not to mention the fact that a record like this can do wonders for his fading career. Of course Superior turns out to deliver much more than he bargained for.
I read this book in a single sitting - the old cliché of not being able to put it down rang true for a change. This book is a gem.
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Format: Paperback
Honestly, this is not a gem, as the cover promises, but an indigestible piece of heavy metal, and the reader takes great pity in poor Wally, who the author makes swallow a whole 747, just to show his everlasting, unfulfilled love for Willa, the town beauty of Superior, a small place in Nebraska.

The main character of the book is J.J. (John Smith) Keeper of the Records for the "Guiness Book of Records", and this is what Sherwood is really interested in. So we hear about the weirdest records in the book, because J.J. can quote them all.

Apart from that J.J. is a lonely man, in danger of losing his job with "The Book", when he hears about Wally's endeavours. So he comes to Superior, and with him the media pack. If Sherwood wanted to put blame on his own lot, he might first have read "This is your Life" by the British author John O`Farrell, but then this book here would not have been written at all and saved the reader 3 boring hours.

J.J. conveniently falls in love with Willa and Sherwood can talk a lot of hot air about that age-old topic also.
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Format: Paperback
As an average bloke, me reading "the story of the greatest love, ever", to quote the opening line, isn't something that I would have imagined ever happening. Love? Pah, something for the girls to read about.

But I'm very glad I did read this book. Ignoring the sheer impossibility of one person ingesting so many tons of metal, composites and industrial fluids in such a short time, this is a peach of a book. It's about much more than the physical act of eating the 'plane, even though it's often centre stage. I've rarely read a work of fiction and actively pulled for the characters, hoping that the ending was a good one for them all.

Some of the reviews show that you can't please all of the people all of the time, but in my view this is an absolute cracker.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fantastic book which walks the line between 'serious literature' and chick lit fluff. It's a great palette cleanser if a book if you've just read something heavy and reaffirms that romance is not dead and that anyone can find love wether they are looking for it or not. Served up with a healthy dose of quirk. What's not to love!
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Format: Paperback
With a nice title, nice cover, nice cover credits, this book had all the appealing wrappings and eventually I bought it.
This is a story about the pursuit of fame and immortality in the guise of record-breaking for the Guiness book of records. The main character is JJ, a judge of 'the book' who leads a much less exciting life than other make it out: no love, no family, no excitement, just work work work. When there seems to be a lull in record-breaking activity (no pun intended!) he finds a story about a guy somewhere in middle America who's eating a plane. Now that would be a great record to earn back his boss' favours... However, it becomes very important not just what he is doing but also why - actually who for - he's doing it.
The introduction is really funny and so is JJ's initial profile. Some actual records are thrown in for the crowd. We seem to be heading for a real treat.
And that is precisely when the book starts to fail. For one, all characters are too linear and regular (Take JJ's prospective girlfriend's father, who asks if JJ is a "Ford man" or a "Chevy man". So what? Do people in middle America reckon other people by the Ford/Chevy ruler? Or the policemen, only worried with keeping the town of Superior clean and quiet hopefully getting rid of 'city types'.).
As you read on you can picture exactly what the author wanted: an adaptation for another run of the mill tv series, the type of "Northen Exposure", only much shallower, less colourful, too clichéed!
Still, an enjoyable read if you fancy something light for the summer and has a nice ending.
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