Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (Tournament of Books 2012)

Julian Barnes' Booker Award winning novel would probably be one to read and not to listen to. However, I chose to listen to it. Read by Richard Morant with an exemplary British accent, I was immediately attracted to the book. I realized fairly early on that this book should have been read; yet had I read it would I have missed out on the snarky sarcasm of the young Tony Webster? Would I have missed the inflection in some of the Laugh Out Loud comments made throughout the book?

The book is a reflection into the past by a 60+ish Tony Webster. It is an honest, or maybe not, look back on his own life after actions and acquaintances from his college days reappear in his old age. The story is masterfully told and until the final moments in the book, Tony, nor I "got it". I must admit that most likely I am a younger female American version of Tony and probably "just don't get it" often enough. Thus, until the final minutes of the book I did not get where it was going and the ending slapped my face.

Did Sense of an Ending deserve an award as prestigious as the Booker? I know I have not read any of the other 2011 Booker nominated books nor have I read many from other years. This one was very enjoyable. It was a great story with an unexpected ending. I have read Cloud Atlas and Thousand Autumns of Jacob Dezoet, both previous years nominees. This book just doesn't fit into the same amazing category as those two. Was Barnes just lucky to fall into a year where the competition for "amazing" literature was just not as stiff as previous years?

So, how will Sense of and Ending hold up in the Tournament of Books?  It is up today against The Devil all the Time.  Apparently, Devil is pretty horrific subject wise and is a long shot against Ending.  Overall, I think Sense will get to the second round and it will be a tough call between it and most likely Salvage the Bones.  From there, I don't know if it has enough of a following to fair well against the likes of the Tigers Wife or the more popular selections, State of Wonder or Marriage Plot.

Regardless, this is a really good story and short read. It is my guess that unless you are counting pages, you won't get a sense of the ending until the last page is read or the last word spoken!

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