Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

There is something frustrating, irritating and slightly unctuous about the modern literary elite - Martin Amis, Ian McEwan and Julian Barnes. There shouldn't be, we should actually be proud of what they have produced and be prepared to absorb ourselves in their prestigious output. Barnes won the 2011 Booker Prize for this slim novella - and though I haven't actually read any of the others he beat to the title, it seems at least worthy of the honour. It's an uncomfortable read at times, dealing with the recollections of Tony Webster, a middle aged man dealing with a life of regret and questionable recollection. It is beautifully written with a straightforward story and cast of characters. His tone of voice, so eloquent and observant, and yet so unable to read people properly as time passes and to display such lack of awareness takes real skill. Building a story around an unsympathetic character is often hailed as a worthy trick to pull off, Amis and McEwan all revel in it. This is slightly different, as you never particularly root for Webster, but recoil in mild disgust. It's also an antidote to boastful Great American Novel writers who demand so much of you with their 150,000 word epic. None of that should put you off, it is a short, accessible and thoroughly engaging little gem of a book.

1 comment:

Sverige said...

I started reading the book and the first few pages got me scared thinking that this is a big waste of my time, it begins with images, fragmented memories and the main character, Anthony Webster recounts his story in the beginning, his schools days and his little group. I expected to be bored and was wondering what is all this hoopla about this book, New York Times best seller and the 2011 winner of the Booker Price. As a got further in the book, I slowly began to enjoy it. I get a kick of the English sensibilities and demeanor. When the first part was over, I said -not bad. I got interested in the characters, his three buddies, Alex, Colin and the mysterious Adrian( who hasn't had a friend like Adrian, the clever and cool guy). And Tony relationship with Veronica in the college years became interesting.