The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
“This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn’t turn out to be like Literature.”
Now this is not a book I would have recommended the first time that I’d read it. Thankfully, I gave the book another chance. And now here it is, on my recommendation list.
This book won the Man Booker Prize in 2011 and that is when I picked it up. It tells the story of Tony Webster in two times in his life. The first is his school days, the second when he is much older, divorced and nostalgic. The catalyst for the thinking is when his school-time girlfriend’s mother leaves him a friends journal in the event of her death. It all revolves around his friend Adrian and his suicide in their early adulthood.
This is a great novel in exploring the use of an unreliable narrator. Tony is reliable through his own memories, he doesn’t have the full story and he remembers time in the same way most people do – tainted by their experience.
The second time of reading it, it really made me think on my own perception of the past. It’s clever in the sense of that. I think my issue the first time reading it was that I’d read it after a classic, a slow burning novel and this is the same, it’s slow paced and it was a little much reading one after the other. The perfect reading conditions for this is after something really energetic because you can then settle into it.
I can understand why this book won awards, it’s got a message and Barnes has a lyrical prose style that is enviable. I’d say give it a chance because I did and enjoyed it much more.
“My cousin Helen, who is in her 90s now, was in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. She and a bunch of the girls in the ghetto had to do sewing each day. And if you were found with a book, it was an automatic death penalty. She had gotten hold of a copy of ‘Gone With the Wind’, and she would take three or four hours out of her sleeping time each night to read. And then, during the hour or so when they were sewing the next day, she would tell them all the story. These girls were risking certain death for a story. And when she told me that story herself, it actually made what I do feel more important. Because giving people stories is not a luxury. It’s actually one of the things that you live and die for.”
“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”
A brand new week, a brand new set of things to do. The weather is getting nicer and the year is in full swing. I’ve also got back into the swing of things, I’ve finished a couple of books and I’ve been doing some writing - things are going in the right direction.
This week I finished reading A Storm of Swords Part Two by George R.R Martin and Delirium by Lauren Oliver, both good reads. I’ve got the first four chapters of my novel compiled and ready for editing. Progress is good.
I think I would like this next week to be a reading week and then the week after a writing week. I’m still working a lot and I just don’t think March is going to be a good month for writing Word Count, but anything is better than nothing. I’m now reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan and also Dare Me by Megan Abbott. I’d like to have these both read by next week.
“Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them. If parents and kids can talk together, we won’t have as much censorship because we won’t have as much fear.”
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Originally rated Solid 4 Stars – Changed rating High 3 Stars
I’ve mentioned this book quite often whilst reading it. At the time it felt like the slowest progress I made with any book so far this year. But for all that, it isn’t a bad book. I understand it’s literary merits and I think that was why I originally rated it a little higher than maybe I should have. It just wasn’t an enjoyable read. Which raises the question – are books meant to be enjoyed? Are books that aren’t enjoyable, less than books that are? Can literary merit make a book stand alone? I can only really think on the experience of The Bell Jar, compared to this. Both books have difficult subject matter but I enjoyed reading The Bell Jar because I felt connected to it. So that’s why I lowered the rating for this book. If I didn’t like it, why should I put it up there in my higher ratings with books that may not be as literary, but I liked to read them more.
Lolita is a novel with an unreliable narrator, Humbert Humbert, he is a pedophile (there is no discussion, he is) who becomes obsessed with young Dolores Haze – to him, Lolita. His narration made my skin crawl, it was vile. I felt no sympathy for him and felt dirty by association as a reader. Here lies my problem – I wasn’t comfortable reading this, I just wanted to finish it and be done. I wanted to get out of the story and I hoped along the way that Dolores would get out as well.
What troubles me is earlier reactions to the novel, how some people consider it a romance, a young manipulative girl and a tormented older man. It’s sick. I’m all for interpretation but in this I just don’t see how people could see that.
I doubt I will read this book again. I doubt I will ever forget it. I think Nabokov’s writing is excellent but I’m more inclined to look at some of his other work instead next time.
The 2014 Book Challenge Update
Wow this week has been busy and tiring. But I suppose that is the way of the grown up world. Good news is though, that I have finished reading A Storm of Swords Part Two, the first book I’ve finished this month. Considering the rate I’ve been going so far this year, that is a slow pace. I’ve got some catching up to do.
I did love the book though, the pace is just pumped up in the second part of the ASOS story. The review will be up soon enough. I’m also about half way through Delirium by Lauren Oliver which is so much better than I thought it would be. It’s one of the better YA dystopian series I’ve read in a while.
Now I’ve got the big book out of the way, I’m looking to my next books. I’m hoping to have Delirium finished in the next couple of days. The next print-form book I’m going to start is Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. I’ve tried to start this book before and wasn’t sure. However, now I have read some David Levithan as well I’m eager to get back to this. It would be great if I could have both of those finished by next week.
Looking at my list of books and the ratings so far this year, I’ve had some great reads – mostly five stars. Which seems bonkers, but looking back at them all, I have enjoyed a lot so far.
"Made ya look!"
I have never hit ‘reblog’ so fast in my life.
Got me everytime!]
So I got bored and made it transparent
If you don’t have room for Genie on your blog, I can’t love nor follow you
RELEVANT TO THIS BLOG
Justin Bartels - Impression (2012)
I can’t not reblog this.
This is the best thing on the Internet. We undress everyday and it shows us how confined we are. Those imprints show how uncomfortable we are throughout each day just to impress other people. We create prisons in our own clothes. We are a prisoner in a socially constructed idea of what is beautiful.
yes its back
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
So many people have fallen in love with this novel, I first saw it on Tumblr and I just keep seeing it through fanart and quotes. The reason people love this book? Well there are two main reasons – one is Eleanor, the other is Park! The characters are what make this novel and there is so much to them that people can’t help but see bits of themselves in them both. For me it was Eleanor- I just love her, if I’d read her when I was a teenager, I would have felt a real kinship.
The story is set in the mid-eighties in a small town in America. Eleanor is a new girl in town and she’s very different, the victim of bullying at school and abuse at home. Enter Park, the guy she ends up sitting next to on the bus, he’s also a little different, one of the only Asian people in the town. Though they don’t get on straight away, there is something that brings them together in a beautiful and life-changing romance.
Rainbow Rowell captured the intensity of a young romance without it being too sentimental or too focused on just them. It really gave a whole world picture. Not only does it deal with romance, it deals with bullying, abuse and identity.
What really springs to mind is the recent arguments I’ve seen about male voices dominating Young Adult fiction – the John Green argument. For people who believe that I suggest they take a look at Rainbow Rowell, she has gained a lot of fans through Eleanor & Park (and her other works) and her works stand beside John Green’s, so if there are any fans out there that haven’t read this book yet – get to it!