Read The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes. Because of the title, and because it was published a few years after Nothing to Be Frightened of, Barnes’ musings on the end of life, I expected the subject matter to be similar. But instead it is more of a discourse on the difficulty of communication and the unknowableness of others, wrapped up in a short novel with a mystery at its heart. I found it somewhat cold and unsatisfying. While recognizing that it is well written, I just couldn’t bring myself to care about Tony, the protagonist. Tony’s life is a rather boring one and he is only interesting at all because of the friends he had in his youth and the things that happened to them. He is a witness to their lives, albeit an unreliable one.
In Part I, he and his friends are shown at their shallowest time, though we can probably all relate to being pompous and self-important in youth. His girlfriend, Veronica — seen through his eyes, at least — is a mysterious and rather unpleasant character. Their friend Adrian leaves him the mystery to solve.
One of the oddest moments in the novel is when the measured recounting of Tony’s early life ends with a quick biographical sketch of marriage, child, separation and a leap forward to the present day and Tony’s later life alone. It is, I suppose, poignant in its ordinariness and lack of meaning.
Tony plods through Part II, attempting to find the solution to the mystery, and it is at the end of the book when light of a sort dawns.
The Sense of an Ending won the Booker prize in 2011.
The Omega muffin and Honey’s Blend coffee on a cool September morning in Deep Cove. Trees starting to change colour, a coolness in the air, people wearing jackets: there will be warm days still, but this is the turning point.
Watched Another Thin Man, with the polished and perfect William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles: the plot is wonderfully silly and convoluted, but it’s hardly necessary to try to follow it as you can just enjoy the appearance of the dapper Nick and the elegant Nora and absorb their quickfire dialogue.
The resolution is a Poirot moment, as Nick gathers everyone together for a recreation of the crime and the camera pans over each shifty-looking face in turn before Nick demonstrates how the murder was done and by whom. Light, witty fare for an evening when you want uncomplicated nostalgia.