(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307595263, 240pp.)
Publication Date: May 3, 2011
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After the best-selling Arthur & George and Nothing to Be Frightened Of, Julian Barnes returns with fourteen stories about longing and loss, friendship and love, whose mysterious natures he examines with his trademark wit and observant eye.
From an imperial capital in the eighteenth century to Garibaldi’s adventures in the nineteenth, from the vineyards of Italy to the English seaside in our time, he finds the “stages, transitions, arguments” that define us. A newly divorced real estate agent can’t resist invading his reticent girlfriend’s privacy, but the information he finds reveals only his callously shallow curiosity. A couple come together through an illicit cigarette and a song shared over the din of a Chinese restaurant. A widower revisiting the Scottish island he’d treasured with his wife learns how difficult it is to purge oneself of grief. And throughout, friends gather regularly at dinner parties and perfect the art of cerebral, sometimes bawdy banter about the world passing before them.
Whether domestic or extraordinary, each story pulses with the resonance, spark, and poignant humor for which Barnes is justly heralded.
In the hands of a talented writer, the short story can illuminate the human condition with remarkable economy. It can leave you devastated â�� or elated â�� in a matter of minutes. More at NPR.org
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