Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

I can't really comment on the other Booker Prize nominees, but I will say that if they are half as beautifully written as Julian Barnes and his "The Sense of an Ending," then I'm going to read every frigging one. There is something about intelligent Brits that always makes me feel dumb. I don't feel that way about American writers that I think are brilliant. But a very smart English writer leaves me a little ashamed of my ignorance. In fact, they make me feel ignorant. This book did that. I rant and rave here about how the I.Q. points of most books I pick up have, collectively, dropped about 100 points. This book is not like that at all. Smart. Very smart and beautifully written, it's both an inditement and a paean to the British middle class, a sense that they are both wrong and right in their adherence to walking that rigid white line down life's path, where to stray is not only too much effort, and yet those who do stray are admired for their bravery.

I wonder if this book will have any resonance for those, say, under the age of forty. Although the writing is top-notch, I wonder if the nostaligia/time/regret that overlays this book is something that can't possibly be germane to someone who actually has a sense of perspective on time, even if that perspective is totally wrong. I don't think that's the fault of the author so much as youth (as he so wonderfully points out) is as much a victim of time as age. And whether young or old, we are caught in its clutches, and not even beautiful prose will free us.

It reminds me of two books that I love very much: Ford Madox Ford's "The Good Soldier" and McEwan's "On Chesil Beach." There is the same sense of time and an unreliable narrator and epiphany and sadness and personal tragedy and age and defeat, all wrapped up in gorgeous writing.

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LINKS

Debris and Detritus (available in trade paperback and ebook formats).

Pen and Prejudice (available in trade paperback and ebook formats).

Roux Morgue (available in hard cover, trade paperback, audio, and ebook formats)

Beat Until Stiff (available in trade paperback, audio, and ebook formats)

Poisoned Pen Press

Mystery Writers of America

Sisters in Crime Northern California Chapter

Independent American Booksellers Association

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