Sunday, 7 August 2011

Julian Barnes - The Sense of an Ending, including limited editions

Julian Barnes is a well established and successful writer, shortlisted on three previous occasions for the Booker Prize. The Sense of an Ending, which has just been released, has already been longlisted for this year’s Prize. It is a short novel (only around 150 pages) which is about the impact of memory (or forgetting) on the chain of events that give us our sense of self. Unlikely to be an easy read, but certain to be thought provoking.

Barnes was born on January 19, 1946 in Leicester and has written numerous novels and other books (details on his very good website). The Booker shortlisted novels were Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and Arthur & George (2005. He has also written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh. Barnes is one of the best-loved English writers in France, where he has won several literary prizes, including the Prix M├ędicis for Flaubert’s Parrot and the Prix Femina for Talking It Over. He is an officer of L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

The Sense of an Ending is published by Jonathan Cape as a hardcover. The London Review Bookshop is offering a signed, limited first edition of The Sense of an Ending, published in association with Jonathan Cape, comprising 100 copies, 75 of which have been quarter-bound in Tusting Chestnut fine grain leather with Rainforest cloth sides, numbered 1 to 75, and 25 copies fully bound in the same leather, numbered i to xxv. All books have head and tail bands, brushed green tops and green Bugra Pastell endpapers, and are housed in suedel-lined slipcases. Edition of 75: £150 (£170 after 4 August). Edition of 25: £260 (£280 after 4 August).

“The story of a man coming to terms with the mutable past, The Sense of an Ending is laced with Barnes’ trademark precision, dexterity and insight. It is the work of one of the world's most distinguished writers.

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they navigated the girl drought of gawky adolescence together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they swore to stay friends forever. Until Adrian's life took a turn into tragedy, and all of them, especially Tony, moved on and did their best to forget.

Now Tony is in middle age. He's had a career and a marriage, a calm divorce. He gets along nicely, he thinks, with his one child, a daughter, and even with his ex-wife. 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 unexpected bequest conveyed by that letter leads Tony on a dogged search through a past suddenly turned murky. And how do you carry on, contentedly, when events conspire to upset all your vaunted truths?”

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