Summary and book reviews of The Man Who Ate The 747 by Ben Sherwood

The Man Who Ate The 747

By Ben Sherwood

The Man Who Ate The 747
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2000,
    272 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2002,
    288 pages.

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Book Summary

This is a story of the greatest love, ever. An outlandish claim, outrageous perhaps, but trust me--

And so begin the enchanting, unforgettable tale of J. J. Smith, Keeper of the Records for The Book of Records, an ordinary man searching for the extraordinary. J.J. has clocked the world's longest continuous kiss, 30 hours and 45 minutes. He has verified the lengthiest single unbroken apple peel, 172 feet and 4 inches. He has measured the farthest flight of a champagne cork from an untreated, unheated bottle 177 feet 9 inches. He has tasted the world's largest menu item, whole-roasted Bedouin camel.

But in all his adventure from Australia to Zanzibar, J.J. has never witnessed great love until he comes upon a tiny windswept town in the heartland of America, where folks still talk about family, faith, and crops. Here, where he last expects it, J.J. discovers a world record attempt like no other: Piece by piece, a farmer is eating a Boeing 747 to prove his love for a woman.

In this vast landscape of cornfields and lightning storms, J.J. is doubly astounded to be struck by love from the same woman, Willa Wyatt of the honey eyes and wild blond hair. It is a feeling beyond measure, throwing J.J.'s carefully ordered world upside down, proving that hearts, like world records, can be broken, and the greatest wonders in life can not be qualified.

Richly romantic, whimsical, and uplifting, The Man Who Ate the 747 is a flight of fancy from start to finish. It stretches imagination, bends physics and biology, but believe it just a little and you may find yourself reaching for your own records, the kind that really count. Written with tenderness, originality, and insight, filled with old-fashioned warmth and newfangled humor, it is an extraordinary novel, a found treasure that marks the emergence of a major storytelling tale.

Excerpt
The Man Who Ate The 747

In the shadow of an ancient bridge, the young lovers leaned into each other with great resolve, lips clenched, arms interlocked. It was a determined kiss, neither soft nor sentimental. Stiff and clumsy, they could have been office colleagues stealing away for a moment on the easy banks of the Seine or students from a nearby ecole learning the steps of love.

Not far away, behind a red velvet rope, a noisy pack of photographers jockeyed with zoom lenses, capturing the embrace. Flashes strobed and video cameras rolled while the kissers clenched, unflinching. Behind them, on bleachers, several hundred observers shouted encouragement.

"Allez! Vive la France!" one young man cried.

"Courage!" a woman called.

From lamp posts on the Ile Saint-Louis, bright banners dangled. Remy Martin, Evian, Air France, Wrigley's--all proud corporate sponsors of the passion play. Men in natty suits surveyed the scene, pleased with the excellent turnout.

In ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The novel’s first chapter features a couple trying to break the world record for the longest kiss. What does this episode tell us about J.J.’s perspective on love? What is the significance of all the world records in the novel?

  2. What drives so many people to go to such lengths to appear in J.J.’s Book of Records? What keeps J.J. from possessing their ambition, determination, and optimism?

  3. Why does Wally go on eating the plane even when it fails to impress Willa? Does he actually crave the grindings, or is this something he simply endures in the name of love?

  4. In her newspaper editorial, Willa asks readers to admire Superior for its everyday accomplishments, not for the fact that one resident is eating a 747. Do you ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
Booklist

This is a sentimental story that, while avoiding mawkishness or cynicism, delivers a subtle tribute to friendship and small-town America. With the right marketing campaign, Wally Chubb could become the Forrest Gump of the new millennium.

Publishers Weekly

...winsome, perceptive and often hilarious...a heartwarming, gently humorous tale that could set records of its own.

Author Blurb Fannie Flagg, author if Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!
I laughed all the way through this book--.Ben Sherwood is a modern-day Mark Twain who writes of small-town America with love, affection and with a definite twinkle in is eye. A delightful and surprising book from start to finish.

Author Blurb Tom Brokaw
Ben Sherwood has given us a modern American fable. It is smart, funny, touching and quirky - a wonderful love story.

Author Blurb Winston F. Groom, author of Forrest Gump
Ben Sherwood has written a touching, funny, poignant story that tugs at the heartstrings...

Reader Reviews
RLG

Ben Sherwood-747
I love this book. While it is slightly predictable, the concept is one that needs to be greatly appreciated to be understood. The whole point of this book is to get people to realize when you just sit and look at the big picture of what someone is ...   Read More

Hugo

Good book
Though it's not the best book I've read; it's one of the best!

Jay Shah

It was really good but sometimes like in the beggining it was a drag.

Kelly

overall it was a good book... enjoyable, entertaining, and sweet... it turned out to be a "happy ending"

kelly

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