The world of books evens the playing field-- delivering truth, connectedness, and beauty across miles and generations. These are a few of my favorite reads that have inspired, shaped, and motivated me.

Friday, May 25, 2012

"The Sense of an Ending" - Julian Barnes

"The Sense of an Ending" is a gripping reflection
of a life half-lived, as the title character notes the
changes in his life and the impending nature
of the grave.

In his sixties now, Tony has begun excavating his
past in hopes of finding some answers, spurred on
by a mystery surrounding a former
lover and events of a lifetime ago.

What bearing does the suicide of a college
friend have on the present? Will history repeat itself?
Is Tony's life salvageable?
What are the motivations behind his
ex and her angry, aloof, ominous presence?

Though intriguing, the mystery and the unveiling
of secrets actually took a backseat to what was the preeminent
feature of the book; Barnes' retrospective of a life
half-lived. Or, at least, lived in a fugue state.

The commentary on memory, perspective, aging,
and obsolescence is remarkable...absolutely
spot-on and mesmerizing. Better than any self-help
book or psychological treatise on the matter.
The honesty and depth of the shares are

The circuitousness of the story, flashing back on events--or is
it merely remembrances--of time as a college man, of his
marriage, of trying to all makes for a beautiful
flow, each non-event later underscoring something significant.
A beautiful and haunting search for meaning and truth...
identity and understanding.


  1. I just finished "A Sense of an Ending" and was left stunned and sorrowful. This beautifully written novella is one of the best books I have ever read and I may sit and read it again. The prose is beautiful and the story unfolds at a leisurely pace, in line with the narrator's unfolding memories. Perhaps someone who is about my age (about the same as Tony's age) will find more to savor and understand in this book, which addresses the unreliability of our memories and our efforts to make our lives have some sort of meaning. I often look back in amazement of how quickly the years have gone by, and how the girl I used to be seems like she lived in another lifetime. We chose what we remember of all the days of our lives, the mundane everyday things as well as the traumas and joys. Tony is the classic unreliable narrator, his memories cloudy, as he struggles to make sense of why his old friend Adrian committed suicide. The mystery unfolds slowly, and we as readers are given the same facts he is. Everything is filtered through Tony's fractured memories. This is a book that will stay with me a long time.

  2. Thanks for the great response! One of the great things about 'Tony' for me was his own awareness (through time's perspective) that he wasn't always the angel he believed himself to be; he discovered there is context to people's choices and actions that we may only understand through maturity, if ever. I agree; if of a certain age, this book will definitely impact for the long-term. Thanks.