This is the story of the greatest love, ever....
J. J. Smith, Keeper of the Records for The Book of Records, is an ordinary man searching for the extraordinary. J.J. has clocked the world's longest continuous kiss. He has verified the lengthiest single unbroken apple peel. He has tasted the world's largest menu item. But J.J. has never witnessed great love.
That is, until he comes to a tiny town in the American heartland. Here 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. But when J.J. unexpectedly falls in love with the same woman, a woman as outwardly cynical as he is, J.J. learns why records are made to be broken...and why the greatest wonders in life can never be measured.
HIntroduced as "the story of the greatest love, ever," by its world-record verifier of a hero, this winsome, perceptive and often hilarious comedy is not sparing in its deployment of superlatives. J.J. Smith, keeper of the records for the Guinness-clone Book of Records, has witnessed and verified the world's longest apple peel, the longest flight of a champagne cork, the longest fingernails, the longest hiccup attack. But as record book sales dwindle in the face of TV's Scariest Police Chases and When Animals Attack, J.J. is ordered to come up with a news-making world recordDor else. Just in time, the dapper, fact-loving New Yorker receives an anonymous tip from Superior, Neb., and sets out for that lonely, windswept town. There, a lumbering introvert farmer, Wally Chubb, is on a mission to prove his love for Superior's sassy newspaper editor, Willa Wyatt. His plan: to consume an entire Boeing 747, ground into grit. The whole town knows of Wally's eccentric commitment, but Willa, a blue jeans-clad blonde who longs for a more "worldly" love, does not have the heart to tell him to stop. Between bites of peanut butter/wing torsion box sandwiches and sips of vanilla fan-blade assembly milkshakes, Wally reluctantly agrees to allow J.J. to record his progress for the Book. Willa rails against the media circus J.J. brings to Superior, but she can't deny her attraction to the new man, and J.J. finds himself falling in love with Willa, too. Conflicts arise when Wally nears the indestructible, and possibly unconsumable black box; when the Book's editors enforce the "no gluttony records" rule; and when J.J. painfully realizes that his love for Willa threatens not only his job but Wally's heart as well. In telling his unlikely story, J.J. begs us to "believe it just a little." There's no question readers will join him in the faith. First-time novelist Sherwood, an NBC executive, has produced a heartwarming, gently humorous tale that could set records of its own. Major ad/promo; author tour; film rights sold to Bel Air Entertainment/Warner Bros. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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January 28, 2002
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Excerpt from The Man Who Ate the 747 by Ben Sherwood
Chapter 1 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 école 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 lampposts on the Île 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 the middle of this bustle, J.J. Smith sat calmly at the judge’s table. He was 34 years old with wavy brown hair, a straight, well-proportioned nose, and an oval face, perhaps a bit soft at the edges. There was a certain authority about him. He wore a navy blazer with a gilded crest on the pocket, linen trousers, and sandy bucks. A closer inspection revealed a few frayed stitches on his shoulders, the hem of his jacket lining stuck together with Scotch tape, pants slightly rumpled, shoes a bit scuffed. He couldn’t be bothered with clothes, really. There were more important matters on his mind. A thick black notebook lay open on the desk in front of him. He inspected the kissers, then checked the pages. So far, not a single violation of the official rules. “Can I get monsieur anything?” a young woman said, batting eyelashes. She wore a flimsy sundress, and official credentials hung on a chain around her long neck. They were all so solicitous, the French staff. “Perhaps a glass of wine?” “Non, merci,” he said. A glass of wine would finish him off. He was an easy drunk. “Thanks. I’ve got everything I need.” “I’m here to help,” she said with a smile. He watched her walk away, slender in the sun. I’m here to help. Indeed. He mopped his forehead, sipped a bottle of cool spring water, and surveyed the Gallic crowd. There was something about the kissing record that always turned out the hordes. Just one year earlier, in Tel Aviv, thousands watched Dror Orpaz and Karmit Tsubera shatter the record for continuous kissing. J.J. clocked every second of those 30 hours and 45 minutes in Rabin Square, then rushed by ambulance with the winners to Ichilov Hospital, where they were treated for exhaustion and dehydration. Now, on a spring day in Paris, another young couple was poised to break the record. They were the last two standing from the initial field of 600 entries. Kissing was an artless record, really. There was no skill involved. Success was more a function of endurance than romance, more stamina than passion. The basic rules were straightforward: lips locked at all times, contestants required to stand up, no rest or toilet breaks. A few additional regulations kept the competition stiff. Rule #4 was his favorite: “The couple must be awake at all times.” Rule #7, though difficult to enforce, was tough on the weak-willed and small-bladdered: “Incontinence pads or adult diapers are not allowed.” But these logistical challenges were easily overcome. While the novices quit from hunger or thirst after the first eight or ten hours, savvy record seekers solved the nutritional problems with a straw, protein