978-0-613-49504-2 / 9780613495042

The Man Who Ate the 747 (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)




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About the book:

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.

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