The Man Who Ate the 747 Hardcover – 20 Oct 2000
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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.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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 clichÃ©ed!
Still, an enjoyable read if you fancy something light for the summer and has a nice ending.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I don't normally write reviews but I was so disappointed with this book I felt I should. It can't even compare to Shearwood's previous book The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud... Read morePublished on 17 Jan. 2011 by Miss J. M. Burton
Even though this book is a "rom-com" on paper, it's a great light read... I loved it... There's also the benefit that it's beautifully written, with nary a word out of place. Read morePublished on 4 Aug. 2009 by S. J. Critchley
I was intrigued when I saw the title and cover of this book, and after reading a couple of pages in the bookshop I was hooked and immediately bought it. Read morePublished on 30 Nov. 2001