LEVELS OF LIFE by Julian Barnes

Julian Barnes’ memoir of grief for the death of his wife Pat Kavanagh in 2008 after a thirty-year relationship, must be one of the most moving tributes ever paid to a loved one, but also the most oblique. So let’s start with something simple, a photograph. Look up the title in the Daily Mail of London, partly for the marvelously-titled review “Lifted by Love, Grounded by Grief” by Craig Brown, but mostly for the photograph that accompanies it. Julian is seated. Pat stands behind him, her arms around his shoulders, her chin resting on the crown of his head. Her love is obvious, she whom Barnes refers to as “The heart of my life; the life of my heart.” But equally striking is the unusual vertical composition. Pat, who on the ground was a small woman beside the gangling Barnes, here appears above him, like a guardian angel reaching down.

February 10, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
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PULSE by Julian Barnes

This lovely passage of a husband at the bedside of his paralyzed wife, who has lost everything except the sense of smell and perhaps hearing, is Barnes at his very best. It is even better in context, for the husband has lost his own sense of smell and cannot even share those memories. It comes from the title story, “Pulse,” printed at the very end of the book, a moving account of a happy marriage contrasted with a troubled one…

May 6, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Short Stories, y Award Winning Author

THE LEMON TABLE by Julian Barnes

One of the things I most enjoy about Julian Barnes is his variety. Each of his books questions the conventional idea of a novel, and each does so in a different way. So I open this collection of eleven short stories expecting an intriguing range of subject and technique, united by a humanity that Barnes has never yet failed to provide. I was not disappointed. This book is as wonderfully written as it is pleasant to hold in the hand, in this beautiful Vintage paperback edition. The range of subjects is indeed large, with scenes of contemporary London alternating with historical stories set in France, Sweden, or Russia. Although all the stories are about twenty pages long, some take place in a single hour, others span a lifetime. They are linked by the common theme of aging, but this should not be a deterrent; few are sad, but rather wry, tender, surprising, or even hysterically funny. Barnes’ range of emotion is as great as his range of style.

May 6, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Short Stories, y Award Winning Author