The Sense of an Ending

It’s kind of a nice ending that I finished Julian Barnes’s A Sense of an Ending just as he was winning the Man Booker Prize, the annual award given to a British author for a full-length work written in English. (Man Booker also gives out an “international” award every other year.) I like the concept of “full-length” here, because Barnes’s novel is so short–176 pages in hardcover. And yet, it is complete, full. Barnes gives us not only the lives of the narrator, Tony Webster, but of his friend, Adrian Finn, whose suicide many years before prompts the small movements that are the action–small although they go so deep. I am not at Tony Webster’s age; I am as everyone knows a baby boomer. But indeed I know that we rewrite our pasts as we go on with our presents. The smallest thing can roil up and change our perceptions, knock our feet off the paths of our lives. In a way this is a mystery story, and Barnes’s slowly wipes off each layer of dust until sitting before us is a truth. What happens to Tony Webster is not so horrible, and yet, at his age he has to change to accommodate truth and truths about himself. (Click on the picture to go to the Barnes & Noble site.)