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The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
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Jan 10, 12

bookshelves: fiction, british, 2012-individual-challenge, library
Read on January 09, 2012

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes begins as an engaging if somewhat familiar story of a group of English boys coming of age and making their way in the world with the member of the group Adrian Finn the "different" and "mostly likely to" stand out in the world member of the group. The narrator is one of the other three boys who all meet at school and negotiate their way from the middle class into the world of 1960s' London.

About 3/4 through the book, the heavily ironic tone began to wear on me, although every page had wonderful Barnesian lines such as: "Or rather, my memory now of my reading then of what was happening at the time," and "You might even ask me to apply my 'theory' to myself and explain what damage I had suffered ...and what its consequences might be: how it might affect my reliability and truthfulness." Two things sustained me through this period of reading: ones was that shortly after I began to tire of the tone, the (surprise) plot suddenly came alive and, two, I realized that the book is not a coming oge story but a meditation on life, aging, conscious, and above all I think, the self-delusions we create to live more comfortably with ourselves and with others. The last is indicated at the beginning of the book when Tony (the narrator) answers a question in history class with the by-now- almost-trite response that history is "the lies told by the winners." After a small sigh, the professor adds, "as well as the self-delusions told by the defeated. The end of the book takes seemingly every early thread and weaves them all beautifully together. Not a word or event or motif has been wasted.

I loved this book. I would quote it endlessly but instead I'll suggest everyone read it for themselves! Although I think the book has flaws (namely, the world weary and relentlessly ironic tone of the narrator which does, on the other hand, to provide a feeling of shock at those moments his defenses are penetrated and, perhaps, the very neatness in which all the threads are tied up) it is better than 4 stars and, for its impact on me and my thinking (and this may have to do with my being close to the age of the narrator with some of the same concerns), a 5 in power. I can imagine people liking it less than I did but not people thinking it a waste of their time.
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Reading Progress

01/09/2012 page 34
23.0% "Totally engaging, albeit (so far) a familiar English coming of age story. My favorite of Barnes so far since Flaubert's Parrot."
01/09/2012
70.0% "Heavily ironic-unrelentingly so-but wonderful."
01/09/2012
100.0% "What a terrific book."

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Arnie In total agreement.


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