Memories open doors in novel

I remember seeing a kitten drown in our swimming pool. But according to my family, it never happened. All of us carry memories of our childhood around with us, but how accurate are they? And does it really matter? Julian Barnes, author of popular Arthur & George, takes on the complex nature of memory in his latest book, The Sense of an Ending.

I remember seeing a kitten drown in our swimming pool. But according to my family, it never happened. All of us carry memories of our childhood around with us, but how accurate are they? And does it really matter? Julian Barnes, author of popular Arthur & George, takes on the complex nature of memory in his latest book, The Sense of an Ending.

Settling into retirement, Tony Webster looks back over his life. He’s had a successful career, a pleasant marriage and even a pleasant divorce. “I wanted life not to bother me too much and succeeded,” he says of his ordinary existence. Happily, he finds that none of his memories requires deeper examination.

Everything changes when the mother of an old college girlfriend dies, leaving Tony a secret diary. Even more perplexing, the diary is not written by the benefactor. It belonged to one of Tony’s childhood friends, who long ago committed suicide. What is the connection?

Tony hasn’t thought about or been in touch with any of these people for years. But a door has opened and he can’t find peace until he digs into the past. Unfortunately, his ex-girlfriend Veronica is in possession of the diary. She still detests Tony and won’t give him the book. “You don’t get it,” she tells him angrily. “You never did.” Tony is discomfited by having to reopen his past. Could he have remembered his own life completely wrong?

This is a perfect novella — it has the complexity of a novel, but the heightened drama and tension of a short story. Artfully, Barnes draws the reader into a seemingly ordinary life and then turns the story on its head. It’s open-ended, yet sharp and insightful.

The Sense of an Ending is shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize. Julian Barnes has been shortlisted for the prize for three previous books. He is also this year’s winner of the David Cohen Prize — an award given to British writers for excellence over their entire writing career. In other words, this is literature at its best.

Other books shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year are Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt, Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan, Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman and Snowdrops by A.D. Miller.

Heather Allen is a writer and reader who lives in Penticton.

allenh@telus.net

 

Just Posted

Hwy. 97 reopened after Trout Creek collision

No details on injuries or cause yet

Souper Sunday raises Soupateria profile

The competition pits local chefs against each other to make soup for the those in need.

Supporting survivors of breast cancer

Survivorship shows there is life beyond cancer

Foreigner feeling like the first time after 40

Foreigner doesn’t miss a beat after 40 years

Octoberfest is the toast of the town

Eighth annual night of fun, music and brews

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

Justin Timberlake invited back to Super Bowl halftime show

A ‘wardrobe malfunction’ with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy during his last appearance

A scary box office weekend for everyone but Tyler Perry

‘Boo 2! A Madea Halloween’ scared up a healthy $21.7 million in its first weekend in theatres

Even as long-form census data returns, Statcan readies for day without it

Wednesday’s release is expected to show immigrants making up a larger share of the population

Letterkenny stars take their act to the Okanagan

The stars of the Crave TV original series Letterkenny will be performing in Kelowna

Brantley Gilbert to take The Ones That Like Me 2018 Tour to Kelowna

With Rolling Stone citing Devil Don’t Sleep Best of 2017, it’s gonna rock

Family worries about missing Malakwa woman

Discovery of human remains has put family members on edge

WATCH: 10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

A golden opportunity

Orthodontist offers sweet deal for the pocketbook

Most Read