How did I come upon this book I ask myself? It turns out Julian Barnes was awarded the 2011 Man Booker prize for this small but quietly potent book. But I think by now that is old news. That didn’t matter to me and in fact it did not seem to stir upon my consciousness. Now that I know, I imagine how ecstatic the author must feel. So congratulations to him.
I first saw mention of this book in an email newsletter I subscribe to. I then saw it in another email. I knew that I would like to read it at some point, but I didn’t pursue it at that time. I had finished up the previous audio book I was reading and I was in search of a new one. Since I have a monthly membership for a flat fee, each month I receive one credit toward any audio book and then other audios are discounted. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to listen to. Something I’ve read before? Something new? Hmm. Nothing was speaking to me. And then I looked and there I saw that familiar title: A Sense of an Ending. The story sounded interesting. The story of youth and how the suicide of a friend from a distant past is revealed, bringing the protagonist back to his schooldays—memory unfolds. It’s not a large book. Four hours and 40 minutes by audio.
I enjoyed listening to the writing. I have a hold request at the library so I can read the book myself. I’m number 164 in the queue. The good news is there are 24 holdable copies across libraries in my county. It will be a little while, not too long though. In the meantime, I downloaded a sample for Kindle with the intention of only reading up until the sample stops. I love seeing the words on the page. How he opened the story and how he recounts a memory, and then continues:
“We live in time—it holds us and moulds us—but I’ve never felt I understood it very well. And I’m not referring to theories about how it bends and doubles back, or may exist elsewhere in parallel version.”
And of course there is more. Then he continues his story where it begins for him during his schooldays.
I found myself lulled softly into the story, entering the school, the classroom, and this band of friends.
I listened to this audio slowly, though it could have been listened to in one sitting. I enjoyed the banter between the friends as the protagonist pulled from his memory bank. When I finally reached the end, I felt a small sense of that’s it. That’s how it ends. I don’t often like endings. There was a subtlety to this one. Despite my initial feeling toward the ending, I enjoyed the story so much that a couple of days ago—I finished the book last week—I decided to begin listening to the story again before the book from the library is available. I don’t like recommending books because I know that we all have different tastes, different moods, etc. I can only say that I’m glad I found this book. It’s the journey of past recollections meeting present and it becomes a meditation on memory—death, life, time, choices, regrets—the ordinary and the extraordinary.
Written with acuity and a sense of grace, I appreciate the quiet, loudness of this book.