Friday, October 28, 2011

THE SENSE OF AN ENDING by Julian Barnes (2011) Random House of Canada, 150 pages

After reading an excerpt from this year's Man Booker Prize winner in my Grade 12 Writer's Craft class a week ago, one of the boys bought a copy, read it in a gulp or two and loaned it to me yesterday. Like him, I flipped through this little tome on my travels to the International Festival of Authors here in Toronto last night and finished it on my commute to work today.

Before school this morning we had a little conversation about our sense of the ending, which neither of us had anticipated, in its soap opera-ish reveal. Like the protagonist Tony Webster, both Ben and I felt our outsider status because we "didn't quite get it"--entirely Barnes' point, I venture to guess. It took the kindness of a stranger in Tony's life to set him (and us, by extension) straight about the mutable facts of his past.

THE SENSE OF AN ENDING explores the unreliability of memory, its essential fickleness. And, although, I didn't really love this novel, Barnes has me flipping back through the pages, as if it were a mystery to be solved from clues I clearly missed.

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