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I had never really intended to read this book and I certainly had no intention of owning it I was browsing in a BN sitting out a winter storm in Lincoln Nebraska and ran across of stack of The Sense of an Ending with BOOKER PRIZE WINNER blazoned across the front of the book I dug through the stack of third printings and there near the bottom was one book with BOOKER PRIZE NOMINEE on the cover Well it is sort of cosmic for a collector such as I to find one first American edition in the pile Small chance of the book ever being a collectible but it is almost impossible mental hindrances for me to buy a later printing of a book Being 20% off helped me throw it on my pile for the check out counter Well about 20 pages in I was shaking my head and muttering to myself about the 20 bill I lit on fire to buy this book What Barnes wrote about English Prep school was stale as stale as a saltine cracker I found in the glove box of my pickup The mystery is I don t remember ever eating saltines in my pickup Luckily Barnes moved on to interesting material Tony Webster is a guy of average intelligence who was arguably the least interesting member of a group of rather bright friends In particular one friend Adrian was head and shoulders above the rest with a true philosopher s mind that earned him a spot at Cambridge Tom was always trying to understand Adrian and always felt as if he was not seeing the picture the same way as his friend Adrian had a better mind and a rigorous temperament than me he thought logically and then acted on the conclusion of logical thought Whereas most of us I suspect do the opposite we make an instinctive decision then build up an infrastructure of reasoning to ustify it And call the result common senseAt prep school Adrian was the star impressing his teachers with lines like this History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadeuacies of documentation No big surprise that Tony spends the rest of his life seeking Adrian s approval Their relationship becomes rocky when Tony s ex girlfriend Veronica starts dating Adrian Veronica s favorite line to Tony is you didn t get it then you don t get it now and you will never get it She is one of those people that think everyone is supposed to understand what is in her head and refuses to give even the most minuscule bit of information to help Tony know what is motivating her decisions Even though she is incessantly disrespectful to Tony he sees her as intelligent hip than he is and is always attempting to better himself in her eyes Reading a fragment of Adrian s diary 40 years after he killed himself Tony now in his sixties still finds himself in need of validation Had my life increased or merely added to itself This was the uestion that Adrian s fragment set off in me There had been addition and subtraction in my life but how much was multiplication and this gave me a sense of unease of unrestI won t discuss the hook of the story the SHAZAM moment where everything becomes clear but I must say my estimation of the book changed as the story moved forward At only 163 pages I felt that the early pages spent at the prep school could have been skipped and made the story closer to flawless A few flash backs would have sufficed to give the reader the background necessary to follow the plot I will close with one bit of introspection from Tony Someone once said that his I will close with one bit of introspection from Tony Someone once said that his times in history were when things were collapsing because that meant something new was being born Does this make any sense if we apply it to our individual lives To die when something new is being born even if that something new is our very own self Because Coming Home (Chesapeake Diaries just as all political and historical change sooner or later disappoints so does adulthood So does life Sometimes I think the purpose of life is to reconcile us to its eventual loss by wearing us down by proving however long it takes that life isn t all it s cracked up to be I think my years as a philosophy student were actually detrimental to my enjoyment of this short novel about life and memory The stuff that has left other people reeling in amazement reminded me of little thanust another essay on the mind and the way we think the way we interpret events and the way our memories can let us down Mr Barnes is clearly a clever man and his writing is a touch complex but always charming However is this really that original anyI don t think so I can po Such was the big fat craptastic big reveal groanworthy lurid pulpy Victorian melodramatic you got to be kidding ending with no sense that the two stars this novel was hanging on to by its fingernails up to page 130 slipped out of its grasp and it ended up with the ignominious one star but since that puts it in the same company as many much loved novels it may well be worn as a Badge Of Honour I envisage one of those peelable stickers on all future editions A P BRYANT ONE STAR NOVEL and Julian Barnes can swank around with Zadie Smith Richard Ford and Don DeLillo and read each other their own one star reviews It s one thing to realise that as a person with a fiction addiction you must tread a lonely path because in Real Life as you may know not that many people are as hopelessly addicted as we here on Goodreads But then it s another thing to have to admit that within that already small but intense intense community of readers you are now part of a minority since the majority appear to be besotted with YAadult romancefantasy etc So mainstream literature is now a minority sport like lacrosse or curling and should be rebranded But then even stranger to find oneself as the minority of the minority of the minority Which happens when the majority of the minority are all raving about a novel that turns out to be The Sense of an EndingIn Flaubert s Parrot by JB a guy moons around in France #on his own and has thoughts about his life and about Flaubert #his own and has thoughts about his life and about Flaubert You Gradually Realise you gradually realise he s suppressing some horrible thing he doesn t want to think about The atmosphere in that novel is transfixing it s maximum understated comedy horror Top novel This one 150 pages of picking over an old friendship and a first romance the banal entanglements of which come to a vague watery. Winner of the 2011 Man Booker PrizeOne of The Atlantic's Best Books I Read This YearA novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single setting The Sense of an Ending has the psychological and emotional depth and sophistication of Henry James at his best and is a stunning new chapter in Jul.

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The Sense of an EndingRy self absorbed and not especially likeable but if anything I think that makes the book interesting In particular there are two rather unbalanced relationships that left their mark with Adrian who oined school later than the others and his first proper girlfriend Veronica He suffers pre guilt the expectation that she was going to say something that would make me feel properly guilty Despite this and a couple of shocking incidents Tony is not unhappy with the course of his life though he is not entirely happy either His reference to the small pleasures and large dullnesses of home is apt Although he was at university in the sixties Most people didn t experience the sixties until the seventies though he experienced a confusing mix of the two Nostalgia doesn t help the powerful recollection of strong emotions and regret that such feelings are no longer present in our lives Can you reverse remorse to guilt and forgivenessMemory History TruthThe recurring theme is the accuracy or inaccuracy of memory coupled with the effects of time Tony is forever musing on memory history and truth Revelations prompt further re evaluation and interpretation Maybe none of this is true some elements of the plot and the behaviour of key characters are implausible or at least not adeuately explained but does it matter anyway Surely that is the point Barnes is making Many books feature unreliable narrators but it s uite refreshing to read one where the narrator is pondering their own unreliabilityTony is honest about his dishonesty as a narrator except that he constantly says his relationship with his daughter is closer than it appears from what he describes and constantly ponders on it What you end up remembering isn t always the same as what you witnessed If I can t be sure of the actual events any I can at least be true to the impression those facts left It gets harder with age As the witnesses to your life diminish there is less corroboration and therefore less certainty as to what you are or have been and memory becomes a thing of shreds and patches When we are young we invent different futures for ourselves when we are old we invent different pasts for others The history that happens underneath our noses ought to be the clearest and yet it s the most deliuescent History is that certainty produce at the point where the imperfection of memory meets the inadeuacy of documentation Mental states can be inferred from actions Whereas in the private life I think the converse is true that you can infer past actions from current mental states Similarly X thought logically and then acted on the conclusion of logical thought Whereas most of us do the opposite we make an instinctive decision then build up an infrastructure of reasoning to ustify it It takes only the smallest pleasure or pain to teach us time s malleability MeaningIn the end the meaning of life is to reconcile us to its eventual loss by wearing us down by proving however long it takes that life isn t all it s cracked up to be Some people dislike Tony so much that that it taints their enjoyment of the entire book but to some extent Tony is everyman and we are all Tony which leads me to wonder if the dislikers are TOO like Tony for their own comfortThis is a story that reveals far with each encounter like the film The Sixth Sense because you know the denouement you spot the significance of trivial signs earlier on and also notice the gaps where Tony and probably the reader has connected dots that shouldn t be Petra nails this aspect in the final paragraph of her short but perfectly formed review hereRelated BooksThis is SO much better than another of his multi decade life stories dating from 25 years earlier Staring at the Sun my review HEREAnother short book in which a grumpy aging man reflects on 25 years earlier Staring at the Sun my review HEREAnother short book in which a grumpy aging man reflects on life makes an interesting contrast with this though Yasmina Reza s Desolation my review HERE doesn t Come Out Of The Comparison out of the comparison only 2And then there is John Banville all of whose books seem to focus on and are often narrated by such people See my reviews HEREUPDATE re Film of 2017I thought the film released in April 2017 in the UK was excellent There was less about schooldays fair enough and Tony was slightly likeable which will help some who disliked the book for that reason The narrative umped about with Tony s understanding in a similar way to the book Three of the six watery images that open the book and this review are featured prominently It has a fabulous cast including Jim Broadbent Charlotte Rampling Harriet Walter Michelle Dockery Matthew Goode Emily Mortimer and James Wilby and it mostly captured the tone and plot very well See imdb page When Veronika said You don t get it You never did I told myself so why don t you tell him Grrr If only these people Barnes characters would sit down and discuss amongst themselves then there will be no problem Then Tony Webster will not have to spend all his life trying to grapple the memories he thought to be contained in his whole pathetic life You see Tony Webster is a double sided man he seems to be this gentle go with the flow nice man who respects his girlfriend not to have real sex until they are ready However when his girlfriend dumps him for Tony Webster s friend he writes the bitterest letter that I ve read coming from a dumped lover The kind of letter that would put to shame even the vilest and the most manipulating charac Just brilliant The book at first appears right to the end to be a rather mundane story of the life of an ordinary man who is neither perceptive about the people around him nor does he see himself in a clear light Only at the end is it apparent that there were two different stories being written at the same time and you can perceive all the clues to the second story only in hindsight although they were so clear you wonder how you could have missed them You wonder how the protagonist could have misinterpreted forgotten and ignored them as well Or did he Maybe it was ust in reflection he could put all the pieces togetherThis is genius writing This was two ways of reading a story one written to be read in the usual way forwards and the other backwards with hindsight This is why Barnes won the Booker Priz. T a life for himself and his career has provided him with a secure retirement and an amicable relationship with his ex wife and daughter who now has a family of her own But when he is presented with a mysterious legacy he is forced to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world. Light when the deceased mother of the ancient girlfriend it was all 40 years ago beueaths to our boring narrator a diary Like a bolt from the blue This was a novel where all the detail of the guy s current mildly depressed defeated mouldering away English life were exactly and toe curlingly right and all the actual incidents in the plot of which there are five I think maybe five and a half are completely wrong simply ridiculous no one would do that The girlfriend would not redacted the mother would totally not redacted and if the friend really did redacted then the narrator redacted This is why a novel can be both intelligent he drops in a sprinkling of Readers Digest Improve Your Conversation by uoting Philosophy snippets and he s forever going on about Time what is Time can we control Time or does Time control Us can Time go backwards or sidewards can Time flow up one nostril and down the Other and also stupid people don t behave like this This was a Booker prize winner but it was one of the Bad Bookers like Vernon God Little There are Good Bookers like Wolf Hall and The White Tiger Read the good Bookers avoid the Bad Keep on the sunny side of life Definitely has a plot but a pathetic one Thin characters cliched ideas I feel annoyed by having read this book OK there was one good uote Sometimes I think the purpose of life is to reconcile us to its eventual loss by wearing us down by proving however long it takes that life isn t all it s cracked up to be But ultimately the plot is a gimmick I don t understand how this won the Booker Prize What the heck did Tony ever do to anyone except send a crappy letter to an ex girlfriend who was now going out with one of his best friends Who HASN T done thatAnd why the money from The Mother Doesn t make any sense Nor does younger Adrian s fear of Tony when he mentions being friends with Mary And why the heck didn t The Mother leave her money to her son who needed the money rather than sending him off to live in some group home once she diedI ve been reading too many books lately I need to start watching television This is by Julian Barnes so we know it will focus on memory and its tricks Some examples but what you end up remembering isn t always the same as what you witnessed And I need to return briefly to a few incidents that have grown into anecdotes to some approximate memories which time has deformed into certainty And again I must stress that this is my reading now of what happened then Or rather my memory now of my reading then of what was happening at the time The book is a Booker Prize winner so we expect and we get great writing In those days we imagined ourselves as being kept in some kind of holding pen waiting to be released into our lives There s not a lot of point in adding an extensive review to book with 12000 already on GR although it s interesting to note that its rating 37 is a bit on the low side Barnes seems to be a writer that you like or you don tThe basic story is that we have a man of retirement age who is a doofus He has a couple of adult children he s never shown much interest in and an ex that he meets with for an occasional lunch The story goes back to his college days and early romances when he broke up with One Girl Who Dumped Him girl who dumped him another buddy in his group view spoiler He wrote the two of them a nasty vicious letter and promptly forgot about it That letter turns up 40 years later in a package from a lawyer and he is shocked to see it He is incredulous that he could have written it memory again but there it is in black and white in his handwriting hide spoiler 45 Update There is going to be a movie after the book and it is coming out this month if interested you can see the trailer here story about the unreliability of memory and how we can chose to forget or to reinvent the past in order not to remember disturbing truths I discovered this book by Julian Barnes when reading comments about Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan which is a book I also enjoyed The tone of the story is uite similar in some ways Barnes McEwan and Coetzee have a way with words that I find brilliant They use simple prose But With Such A Punch with such a punch am not fully satisfied about how the author finished the book and left some of the events unexplained Maybe that was the intention but I would have liked to understand a little bit better the reason behind some of Veronica s behavior Some of my closest GR friends may have noticed that I ve been less active around here lately Unfortunately there s a reason for that It s nothing dire but it s still sad for me to have to say As it turns out I m going to have to hang up my spurs albeit for reasons that have nothing to do with my friends here and not even much to do with me It has to do with my niece s husband who until recently had been a web application developer at Goodreads The past perfect tense applies because while it s all well and good to speculate on your own m This is an exploration of memory exuisitely written as the thoughts of an old man looking back on his life good enough to merit 5 despite the somewhat contrived ending ironic given the titleImageryIt opens with six watery images an unexpected word in several of them makes them vivid each of which form part of the story I remember in no particular order a shiny inner wrist steam rising from a wet sink as a frying pan is laughingly tossed into it gouts of sperm circling a plughole before being sluiced down the full length of a tall house a river rushing nonsensically upstream its wave and wash lit by half a dozen chasing torch beams another river broad and grey the direction of its flow disguised by a stiff wind exciting the surface bath water long gone cold behind a locked door PlotTony and his three friends were somewhat pretentious teenagers from moderately privileged backgrounds one of those suburbs which has stopped concreting over nature at the very last minute and ever since smugly claimed rural status They are on the cusp of going to university As they go their separate ways they stay in touch to greater or lesser extents but events of their youth echo across the years and as he approaches retirement Tony tries to draw the threads together and make sense of his life Ve. Ian Barnes's oeuvre  This intense novel follows Tony Webster a middle aged man as he contends with a past he never thought much about until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance one of them from the grave another maddeningly present Tony thought he left this all behind as he buil. ,