By Simply Books, Apr 30 2019 03:17PM
Here's a quick look at what Andrew’s been reading and enjoying...
Julian Barnes’ new novel The Only Story opens with a question:
Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less and suffer the less?
And in many ways the tale that follows is an exploration and reflection on this central proposition. In characteristically spare and elegant prose Barnes narrates the story of a love affair between Paul and (the much older) Susan – starting in the 1960’s and spanning a period of 30 or more years. First love has lifelong consequences, but Paul doesn’t understand or foresee any of that at nineteen. At nineteen, he’s proud of the fact that his relationship flies in the face of social convention. But as the years pass, the demands that love places on Paul become far greater and more complex than he could possibly have anticipated. This is a sad and often beautiful tale – sharply observed and carefully crafted in Julian Barnes’ customary style, and with a fascination with the ‘slipperiness’ of memory that carries echoes of his Booker Prize winning The Sense of An Ending. Such a pleasure to read!
My other choice - The Melody by Jim Crace - is by another consummate stylist. Alfred Busi, famed in his town for his music and songs, is morning the recent death of his wife and quietly living out his days in the villa he has always called home. Then one night Busi is attacked by a creature he disturbs as it raids the contents of his larder. Busi is convinced that what assaulted him was no animal but a child - - and this belief soon fans the flames of an old rumour about an ancient race of people living outside the town, and a new controversy sparked by hostility to the town’s paupers. The people have had enough – it’s time these feral wastrels were dealt with…
The Melody has the feel of a fable for our times. Unsettling – and at times quite otherworldly – this is a poignant and subtle story about human nature, and will stay with you long after you turn the final page.