The stories in Julian Barnes' long-awaited third collection are attuned to rhythms and currents: of the body, of love and sex, illness and death, connections and conversations. Each character is bent to a pulse, propelled on by success and loss, by new beginnings and endings. In "East Wind" a divorced estate agent falls in love with a European ...
The stories in Julian Barnes' long-awaited third collection are attuned to rhythms and currents: of the body, of love and sex, illness and death, connections and conversations. Each character is bent to a pulse, propelled on by success and loss, by new beginnings and endings. In "East Wind" a divorced estate agent falls in love with a European waitress, but is tempted, despite his happiness, to investigate her past; in "The Limner" a deaf painter discovers his patron's likeness after spending time among his staff. Anchored off the coast of Brazil, Garibaldi spies his future wife through a telescope, and in "Marriage Lines", a widower returns to a remote Scottish Island to relive a favourite holiday. These are also lives in flux - in the 'stages, transitions, arguments; incompatibilities which grow' - as in the title story, where a man reflects on the break-up of his marriage, brought into new perspective by the actions of his parents; two writers, a 'good team', return from an event rehearsing familiar arguments; in "Gardener's World", a couple bond, fall out and bond again over flowers and vegetable patches. Positioned in between are a series of evenings at "Phil & Joanna's", where among the topics of conversation - the environment, politics, the Britishness of marmalade, toilet graffiti and the perils of smoking - we witness the guests' lives shift in sections over the course of a year. Ranging from the domestic to the extraordinary, from the vineyards of Italy to the English seaside in winter, the stories in Pulse resonate and spark, each imbued with the humour, poignancy and perception that marks all Julian Barnes' work. This is an imaginative and expertly-constructed new collection from a master of the form.
Publishers Weekly, 2011-02-21 Companionship-the search for, the basking in, and the loss of-binds Barnes's first-rate collection of short stories, his first since 2004's The Lemon Table. In a lesser author's hands, a single story composed almost entirely of dialogue-let alone four of them-would collapse under the pressure of carrying off such a task and still moving along the narrative. But Barnes proves himself an erudite fly on the wall in his "At Phil and Joanna's" series, which involves the postdinner conversations of a group of London friends discussing everything from the 2008 election to marmalade, sex, and testicle operations-and each character comes alive despite the slightest hints of description and exposition. Vernon in "East Wind," on the other hand, takes the notion of observing a step too far during an awkward courtship with a German waitress in a seaside town. Though their circumstances couldn't be more different, the characters in "Sleeping with John Updike," "Gardeners' World," and "Harmony" all find themselves at one time or another content in the knowledge of the space they share with a friend, spouse or healer, yet it is when this companionship is just out of reach, as in the dryly witty "Trespass," or snuffed out, as in the poignant title story, that Barnes shines brightest. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Copyright in bibliographic data and cover images is held by Nielsen Book Services Limited, Baker & Taylor, Inc., or by their respective licensors, or by the publishers, or by their respective licensors. For personal use only. All rights reserved. All rights in images of books or other publications are reserved by the original copyright holders.