Review: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Review: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Publisher: Vintage Books, May 2012
Pages: 163
Genre: Literary fiction
First Line: I remember, in no particular order:




I almost didn't pick up this book. I had seen it on a list of good books or something, but all I really knew about it was that it won a Man Booker Prize (which my mother is obsessed with) and that it was about a divorced man. That last part made me dismiss it. But I saw it in the library and I checked it out and I couldn't be more happy that I did.

The narrator, Tony, spends the first part of the book going over some stories of his youth and his group of pseudo-intellectual friends back in school. Talk of youth, of course, leads eventually to recounting his first times experiencing love and sex. The second part brings us back to the narrator in his 60's with a content life, now amicably divorced, discovering that he was left the diary of one of his now deceased friends from youth. This one object shakes up his entire life, bringing his past back to the present. (Another book about memory? Sign me up!)

The Sense of an Ending is short and incredibly poignant (like this review, minus the poignancy). Everything unfolds beautifully, and Tony's realizations are gentle and important. It felt almost like a Catcher in the Rye for adults. Don't ask me why I say that, though, because I haven't read Catcher in the Rye in years. I wish I better knew how to praise this book in review form, but, for one, I don't think I really know how to write reviews, and also this book is just so simply beautiful. It's a quick read that's easy to get absorbed into. I think it was important that I read this book, and that is all I know.

Some Quotes:

"It strikes me that this may be one of the differences between youth and age: when we are young, we invent different futures for ourselves; when we are old, we invent different pasts for others."

"How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but--mainly--to ourselves."

Outlandishness Rating: 4/10

Very real, but the structure and ending get it some of those coveted outlandish points.

Recommended For:

Anybody alive. If you can't tell, I'm kind of into this book. But, again, if you have hang ups about memory, read this especially.


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