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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Some send candy and flowers. Some write love letters and ballads. And some will eat a Boeing 747 to prove their love for a woman, as in this charming debut. Ben Sherwood, a senior producer of NBC Nightly News, proves he can make news of his own in a wildly inventive audiobook that may just as likely warm your heart as give you heartburn, The Man Who Ate the 747.
"This is the story of the greatest love, ever," begins our hero, J. J. Smith -- an unremarkable man and an unforgettable narrator, the Keeper of the Records for The Book of Records. He has traveled the world verifying and recording some of the most bizarre superlatives imaginable, feats of the body and freaks of nature through which people hope to be immortalized by being the fastest, the most, the greatest. Quoting obsessively from The Book of Records (he has witnessed attempts to break the record for the world's longest kiss -- 30 hours and 45 minutes), J. J. proclaims all matters of the heart to be the product of dopamine, pheromones, and our innate response to symmetrical features. But an anonymous letter from America's heartland leads him to a place where he must throw out the book of everything he thought he knew about love.
In a world where reality TV floods the media with high-speed car chases and animal attacks, the world's fastest snail can hardly compete, and J. J. must find a real humdinger of a record breaker quickly, or he'll fast become the world's most unemployed Keeper of the Records. Salvation appears in Superior, Nebraska, where he finds a superlative unlike any he's witnessed before -- a quiet, heartsick farmer, Wally Chubb, is eating an entire Boeing 747 airplane to show his lifelong unspoken love for Willa Wyatt, who writes, edits, and prints the town's newspaper. After J. J. convinces Wally that the recognition of a world record will help him win the heart of Willa, the world turns its attention to this humble man as he, aided by a metal-grinding contraption created by his best friend, Nate, consumes a daily diet supplemented with pureed plane parts. As Wally eats his way to unlikely fame, J. J. finds himself completely enamored of Willa -- but when the Book of Records disqualifies the attempt under its rules against "gluttony," the Keeper of Records soon finds there is no category for the sharpest turn his life has taken thus far.
In The Man Who Ate the 747, Ben Sherwood makes a debut that is second to none, showing us that the terrain of the heart -- while it cannot be quantified in conventional superlatives -- still holds immeasurable wonders. (Elise Vogel)
Elise Vogel is a freelance writer living in New York City.