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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Sense Of An Ending, Part 2


I was dismayed when another commitment prevented me from attending a book club meeting to discuss Julian Barnes' "The Sense Of An Ending" last September. I really wanted to hear what smart readers had to say about this 2011 novel that had moved me so much I gifted it to both my sister and wife last Christmas.

Early today, fifteen months after finishing it the first time and writing the above post, almost exactly one year after that missed meeting, I re-read the book - a different club picked it for a meeting held this afternoon. Though in the past I'd used my book journal or any notes taken to refresh my memory when attending meetings to discuss other books I'd previously read, the glow of Barnes' novel was still so fresh I relished the idea of re-reading it. And it was an improbably richer experience the second time. You know that old magical thinking bit that goes something like this? "If only everyone could read/hear/see/be exposed to (fill in the blank), the world would be a better place". The brilliance of "The Sense Of An Ending" makes me wish my blog had enough reach that using that evangelistic hyperbole would bring this book to every thinking person.

If able to narrow down my choices, I'd use Barnes' exquisite prose to entice you. But his book is bursting with sentences, paragraphs, pages worthy of quoting. One reader at today's meeting, an artist, compared the surgical concision of Barnes' writing to the way abstract painters leave out enough in their work so our imaginations can roam free. Hearing her insightful remark reminded me why I like listening at these meetings more than speaking.    

1 comment:

  1. Abstract Art is often the artist's attempt to bring the subject down to it's least common denominator. This allows the viewer to "work" at bringing the idea into a finer focus that has meaning based on the viewer's experience. Think: "more pixels". Compare this kind of art to say an allegorical scene in which the story is layed out for the viewer to simply "read'. Barnes,however, like the abstract artist, brings the story - the "something that happened"- down to the simple esentials and our job as readers is to find our meaning from his framework.