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Talking It Over


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'Few writers think and talk to beguilingly. This book is wonderfully funny. And intelligent. And moving' Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Julian Barnes is the author of twelve novels, including The Sense of an Ending, which won the 2011 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. He has also written three books of short stories, Cross Channel, The Lemon Table and Pulse; four collections of essays; and two books of non-fiction, Nothing to be Frightened Of and the Sunday Times Number One bestseller Levels of Life. He lives in London.


The author of Flaubert's Parrot once again devises smart and fabulous fun. On the surface Barnes's newest is a postmodern Jules et Jim , made up only of testimonies from its characters, principally, meat-and-potatoes Stuart; Stuart's new bride, Gillian; and Stuart's best friend, the grandiloquent Oliver, who has fallen in love with Gillian. The structural conceit, however, opens the novel to a wealth of literary gambits, all the more effective for their unobtrusiveness. Barnes plays on Pirandello, for example, giving us characters in search of a reader: they compete for attention, directly address an intended audience (``Have a cigarette? You don't? I know you don't--you've told me that before''), demand that an unsympathetic witness be yanked from the story line. As Oliver woos Gillian, Barnes throws in some teasing references to other pursuits. The ingenious ending allows each of the figures to fashion his own, radically different resolution, while Barnes's sly narration leaves it to the reader to be the ultimate judge and, as such, the ultimate author. BOMC and QPB alternates. (Oct.)

Stuart Hughes and Oliver Russell have been friends since childhood. When the fiscally astute but socially inept Stuart meets the beautiful and artistic Gillian Wyatt at a London wine bar, Oliver can hardly believe it. Gillian clearly deserves someone more cultured, more sophisticated--someone more like Oliver himself. Oliver tags along on the couple's first dates, stands as best man at their wedding, and only when it is too late declares his love for his best friend's wife. It's rather like a British version of the film Jules and Jim , he jokes. In fact, the narrative strategy has more in common with TV documentary than prose fiction. The characters are ``talking heads'' who address the reader directly, in three autonomous though interrelated harangues. There is no omniscient narrator to interpret the story; each character is defined entirely by speech. A witty and provocative novel from the author of the masterpiece Flaubert's Parrot ( LJ 4/1/85). Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/91. --Ed ward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles

Few writers think and talk so beguilingly. This book is wonderfully funny. And intelligent. And moving * Independent on Sunday *
Quicksilver clever and allusive * The Times *
Scintillating... It's funny, quick on the draw, and knows when to soften the gaze. It reads so smoothly, the pages seem to flip themselves * Observer *
A writer of rare intelligence. He catches the detail of contemporary life with an uncanny forensic skill... He is, as always, a superb ironist, a connoisseur of middling, muddling, modern England * London Review of Books *
A wonderfully wistful and funny novel * Daily Telegraph *

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