I finally completed Julian Barnes’ 2011 Man Booker Prize winning book – The Sense of an Ending. Considering I felt both previous Booker Prize winners I read earlier in the year – The Finkler Question and Midnight’s Children were not easy reads, I was pleasantly surprised to find I liked this one. In addition to it being ‘readable’ [and that was the subject of a furore which threatened to engulf this year’s awards] I suspect I liked it because it explored the conflation of memory and reflection, a genre of books I’ve been drawn to since I read Teju Cole’s Open City.
My favourite passage is a reflection on time and how it paints the past in a different, less sure light.
… how time first grounds us and then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them.
Time … give us enough time and our best-supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical..
Thanks to lulls here and there – as opposed to the fast pace at which April, May and June went by – I managed to do a bit of reading:
- Salman Rushdie’s – Midnight’s Children (1981 Booker Prize winner, 1993 Booker of Bookers Winner & 2008 The Best of the Booker Winner): I read this one mainly on the go, off a hand held device which probably affected my enjoyment of the book. I did think it was a laborious read at times. It might be a thing I have for Booker winners, as I didn’t exactly enjoy my reading of The Finkler Question either earlier in the year.
- Ian McEwan’s – On Chesil Beach (2007 Booker prize shortlisted): Good read, if only for its description of 1960s England, before the advent of the pill and the mainstream-ing of contraceptives.
- Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz (2006 New York Times Bestseller): An engaging read on Christianity, and how it is meant to be a passionate relationship not based on stultifying rules. The section on being addicted to solitude hit too close to home too… Definitely one I should re-read at a more leisurely pace.
- Haruki Murakami’s After Dark: Seven hours one Tokyo night… Part real life, part dream.
I finally finished Howard Jacobsen’s 2010 Man Booker Prize winning offering “The Finkler question” – if plodding through the equivalent of 320 pages on a mobile device can count as reading. The ubiquity of kindle apps for almost every connected device under the sun – and Amazon’s penchant for adding tons of cardboard to shipped books – made me try the iPad + Kindle app combo for reading books this year.
In the main, reviews of the book were great – The Guardian , The Independent and The Telegraph all had high praise for the book. Although there were quite a few note worthy constructs sequestered within the text, I did however find reading it a wee bit tiring. What the book did well though, was to endlessly waffle on about the subject of being…
My take? As an inquiry into the subject of being, it was excellent. As fiction, it was mind numbingly boring.. Nonetheless, it is one of those I intend to read again….