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A brilliant, discursive, very funny book about death and the fear of death, god, nature, nurture and the author's childhood. The closest thing to a memoir Barnes will ever write.
Julian Barnes is the author of twelve novels, including The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. He has also written three books of short stories, Cross Channel, The Lemon Table and Pulse; four collections of essays; and two books of non-fiction, Nothing to be Frightened Of and the Sunday Times Number One bestseller Levels of Life. He lives in London.
At 60 years of age, Barnes--the author of ten novels (most notably, Arthur & George), two books of stories, two essay collections, and a translation of Alphonse Saudet's In the Land of Pain--openly explores in this memoir both his life and his reveil mortel (deadly awakening). The son of an atheist mother and an agnostic father, Barnes describes in a familiar tone his realization of death and mortality with all the wisdom of one of the philosophers, authors, and friends he here so frequently quotes, explaining, e.g., that the notions of God and death should not be conflated because "God might be dead, [but] Death is well alive." Written in London between 2005 and 2007, with some focus on religion and morals, this work addresses the present as well as the many options that exist in the almost unforeseeable but always inevitable future. Whether God and an afterlife exist is ultimately left up to the reader to decide. Recommended for academic and public libraries of all sizes. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/08.]--David L. Reynolds, Cleveland P.L. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"Both fun and funny. It is sharp too, in the sense of painful as well as witty... Barnes dissects with tremendous verve and insight this awesome inevitability of death and its impact on the human psyche. He also tears at your heart" * New Statesman * "A maverick form of family memoir that is mainly an extended reflection on the fear of death and on that great consolation, religious belief... It is entertaining, intriguing, absorbing...an inventive and invigorating slant on what is nowadays called 'life writing'. It took me hours to write this review because each reference to my notes set me off rereading; that is a reviewer's ultimate accolade" -- Penelope Lively * Financial Times * "A brilliant bible of elegant despair...that most urgent kind of self-help manual: the one you must read before you die" -- Tim Adams * Vogue * "Intensely fascinating" * The Times * "An elegant memoir and meditation. A deep seismic tremor of a book that keeps rumbling and grumbling in the mind for weeks thereafter" * Garrison Keillor *