The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Summary from Goodreads:

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life.

Now Tony is retired. He's had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He's certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer's letter is about to prove. 

The Sense of an Ending is unsettling. For a book that spans 167 pages, it sure packs a wallop that I did not quite expect. A huge portion of the story is Tony Webster's musings on the meaning of life. But I assure you it is more than a running journal of his thoughts. And yeah existentialist talk can easily brow beat me into exasperation. But Julian Barnes is a philosophical wordsmith that writes with amazing flair. The result is an evocative and reflective read about life, death, youth, aging and memories. The story is both quiet and aggressive, with a mixture of wistful nostalgia and abstract philosophizing. And there's a biting break up letter that trumps all other break up letters. That last one was the aggressive part. Ha. But really, that letter demands a Taylor Swift song of it's own.


Back to the book, what perturbed me about this book is that it kind of took life and put it in a box. The nature of life, as I am won't to read about it, is complex, incomprehensible, too grand to ever be explained or contained. But here comes Julian Barnes upending this idea. Eros and Thanatos. Sex and Death. Life boiled down to two words. And what is history? You'd think of the words, factual, accurate, true. But really, where does history come from? From memories. And memories are unreliable. History, as Tony Webster puts it, "is the memories of the survivors, most of whom are neither victorious nor defeated." "History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation." *mind blown.*

Anyway, The Sense of an Ending also brings with it an intriguing mystery story that Barnes decides to reveal piece by piece. And just when you are lost (and most probably, terribly confused) in the reverie of hazy, unreliable memories, it is punctured by a stark revelation that will, once again, blow your mind.

"There is accumulation. There is responsibility. And beyond these, there is great unrest. There is great unrest."  

This book definitely brought a sense of unrest in me. This is a narrative I won't be forgetting anytime soon, not until my memory fails me.  

Comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Mommy L! But this book has so much more than what I just covered in this review. Affected ako masyado sa aklat na itey. Haha. :)

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  2. Replies
    1. Of course! That letter is one to be remembered! Di maalis sa utak yun. Haha. :)

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  3. *Here comes the troll comment!*

    Taylor Swift! LOL!

    Julian Barnes is really good, no? I love how he writes. It seems so short for a novel but kept us thinking a lot about life and being pretentious, memories and remorse, stuff like that. I hope we could read together another thought-provoking novel like this soon. :)

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    Replies
    1. Swiftie ka din ba? LOL! Oo, todo buddy read! Mamamalimos pa pala ako nung Saramago. Hahaha. I think with ASoaE, dapat may ka buddy read ka talaga noh? Para mas madaling ma-understand. :)

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