Let me begin by saying that I don’t mind short, understated books – novellas if you like. I do like them. What I don’t like is paying the same money for a 150 page book, that could have easily been written by a skilled writer in a month, that I have to pay for a 826 page book involving loads of research full of medieval and linguistic references (yes, I am reading Nicola Barker’s Darkmans). I just don’t think that’s fair.
That said, it was a pretty decent book. It follows a very simple formula of an old man revisiting some events from his past. It has this Dead Poets Society/Catcher in the Rye feel to it if you know what I mean.
There is a lot of meditation on how people and situations become warped by our memory. Our memories, especially those that we think about a lot, become simplified, they become symbols, they lose all their nuances. They become a game of Chinese whispers - a message that our brain keeps repeating to itself until it loses all the details and becomes completely distorted.
This is not a terribly creative or original book and to be honest with you the final revelation was, er, rather cheesy. I know it is Julian Barnes, Booker Prize, what not, but that stuff was cheesy, ok?
Julian Barnes and his narrator don't "get" women. It really pisses me off because how can you 'get' men and not 'get' women? We are not some sort mysterious, mystical, half human half something else species. But women in 'The Sense of an Ending' move in very mysterious ways.
Tony's (the narrator's) ex-wife says one sentence to him : "Now you are on your own" and stops speaking to him. His ex-girlfriend comes back like a blast from the past to send him emails saying random things like : "You will never get it so don't even try" or meets up with him and doesn't talk at all but takes him to some place without any explanation. Seriously, WHO does that?
Don't even get me started on the mother of the ex-girlfriend. Every single woman in this book does some seriously outlandish things.
I know it all sounds like I didn't like the book, but I did. Me and that book we spent a nice afternoon together.