18 September 2010

Solar Plath

Sylvia Plath features, briefly, on page 164 of Ian McEwan’s most recent novel Solar.

McEwan locates one of the character’s flats “almost opposite the building where Sylvia Plath once put her head in the oven after setting out bread and milk for her sleeping children.” He continues, “The poet, a daughter of the fifties, was a diligent housewife who kept about her an unpoetically tidy domain...”

Naturally my antennae paid quite close attention to this development in the novel. So, disappointed was I to read that the normally careful McEwan placed the flat in Primrose Hill at Fitzory Street. But that’s obviously not right at all! Fitzroy Street sits squarely in the middle of Fitzrovia, near Euston Station and the BT Tower. Not Primose Hill at all. For the paperback edition, please consider changing it to the correct name: Fitzroy Road.

Also, see pages 122-126 for, perhaps, one of the most clearly written, evocative,exotic and mouth-watering descriptions of all time of what it is like eating Salt and Vinegar crisps.

McEwan’s bringing Plath comes on the heels of Britain’s other literary giant, Graham Swift, who’s chapter “Fishing with Ted, Devon 1998” in 2009’s Making an Elephant: Writing From Within is about his friendship with Ted Hughes.


Anonymous said...

Ian McEwan's front door is on Fitzroy Street (Fitzrovia) so he was probably thinking of that.

Anonymous said...

I think I agree with Peter that this is a little careless: moreso and especially given McEwan's front door in on Fitzroy Street. But I'm encouraged about the description of eating crisps.

Julia said...

McEwan is such a good writer, though. Atonement is one of the best books ever. And how cool that McEwan thought of Sylvia here--it just emphasizes the fact that she is such a cultural touchpoint in literature.

In my mind, the mistake, while possibly correctable in the paperback, is easy to forgive.

Rehan Qayoom said...

Will have to flick through this for the mere salt and vinegar experience, my favourite flavour.

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