Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Good book. Good story but slow in parts for me. What I enjoyed most were Barnes's observations on getting older. Excerpts below...

"What did I know of life? I who had lived so carefully. Who had neither won, nor lost, but just let life happen to him? Who had the usual ambitions and settled all too quickly for them not being realized? Who avoided being hurt and called it a capacity for survival? Who paid his bills, stayed on good terms with everyone as far as possible, for whom ecstasy and despair became just words once read in novels? One whose self rebukes never really inflicted pain?"

"The time deniers say: forty's nothing, at fifty, you're in your prime and sixty's the new forty, and so on. I know this much: that there is objective time, but also subjective time, the kind you wear on the inside of your wrist, next to where the pulse lies. And this personal time, which is the true time, is measured in your relationship to memory."

"Average, that's what I'd been, ever since I left school. Average at university and work; average in friendship, loyalty, love: average, no doubt, at sex."

"But time grounds us and then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things, rather than facing them. Time...give us enough time and our best supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical."

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