Originally posted on Kitabi Karwan
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.
Actions have consequences. Perhaps no other adage can sum up the history of well….everything. Sometimes, the tiniest of steps result in the largest of leaps, and the deepest of jumps are in retrospect nothing but a swim in the shallow end. This remarkably simple principle is often the most forgotten or rather ignored one, and well, this action in itself has consequences too. Isn’t that what life essentially is, or rather becomes? A vicious cycle of actions and consequences. Some maybe good, some maybe bad, but beyond these moral calls, they’re ultimately just that.
Barnes utilises a rather curious method of writing. He adapts the tale of an unreliable, melancholic and slightly bitter narrator in blinding detail about two specific phases of his life. It is quite a jump that perhaps the greatest duration of his life is covered in a few pages while specific parts, which form the story are supremely sharp. That’s not unique in itself, given that many plot lines use that device. What stands out is the rather contrasting effect of juxtaposing the protagonist’s unreliability with precise detail. It may have been a beautiful commentary on the strange workings of the human mind for all I know, but then again, it is a human mind utilising dexterous tools to compose this.
This book is a sobering mirror for everyone I know. It appeals to the young – don’t be brash, you’ll regret the consequences, not the act. It calls out the middle aged – before you know it, it’ll pass in a blur. It wrecks the old – each step of your life compounds to make you who you are, and it is too late to blame anyone. You’ll regret the act, and the consequences will make sure you do.
I admit I was slighted by the fact that this book won a Booker prize. But it fits in perfectly with the inherently British bias the prize carries. Don’t get me wrong, the book is fantastically written, and will make you question things you never thought you would, and will make you think for longer than you supposed you could.