Thursday, February 27, 2014

THE SENSE OF AN ENDING

What to wear: A plain grey tee.
What to drink: Whiskey, neat.

The Sense of an Ending is one of those books I picked up solely based on the cover. I have a lengthy and ever-increasing list of "must reads" on my phone, but oftentimes when I get to the bookstore, the list seems suddenly dull and I start skimming, waiting for an image to grab me. The starkness of this particular cover art, along with the title and the Man Booker Prize, sold me, but let me start by saying: I don't think I enjoyed this book quite as much as others have seemed to (read: A LOT). I appreciate the concept, and think the story is based in an incredibly human experience, but the book itself—eh. I did finish it in one sitting, though, so maybe I'm remembering it wrong (ha).

This book is, at its core, a reflection on memory and perception, as told through one man's experience. The protagonist, Tony Webster, starts the novel with an in-depth look at the young life of he and his three best friends, and their love of literature. This was my favorite part of the story, though it's not really the crux at all. The four little British dudes love each other and the books they devour, and they think they're awesome. “Yes, of course we were pretentious—what else is youth for?” says Tony (or author Julian Barnes, depending on how you look at it). The boys' friendships disintegrate as they head to university, where Tony meets Veronica, a girl who he seems to simply tolerate, but who becomes a source of major, MAJOR angst in his life.

And suddenly Tony is a 60-year-old divorcee, forced to revisit an experience that he had previously dismissed. This is where the surprises come in, as both Tony and the reader realize that words spoken out of spite cannot be unsaid, and sometimes our black and white perceptions fade to grey with time.

I mean, read it. It's a quickie, and probably a work of genius that I happened to read on a day when I needed a bit more excitement.

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