Posted by: Ele Quigan | December 28, 2011

‘The sense of an ending’ Julian Barnes

Booker prize time, probably one of my fave times of the reading year (or at least it used to be) getting a pile of books to read intermittently over the next few months, and re-judge what I thought was a decent novel. Last year was interesting, with that piece of SHITE ‘The Slap’ included in the list… but I digress.

I’ve read the Brothers Sisters, which I really didn’t enjoy, in fact it just wasn’t even worthy of a blog post (like most of the novels I’ve read this year, George R R Martin, I’m looking at you…) however this, albeit short, was a really interesting read.

While it’s set in the 60’s where university relationships were slightly different to say my high school and young adult relationships, there was still a parity in there on how we look at relationships from our formative years, and how they shape our loves and hates well into the future.

I find it typically difficult to connect with the person I was in the past. I guess London has provided me an escapism that I genuinely needed, and has allowed me the space to develop beyond the shell, avoid thinking about who I was and things that I’ve done, and happily move beyond the pile of metaphorical shit I left behind. However this book has sparked a bit of a “WTF” moment from me, and is causing more than a little bit of second guessing.

What would you give to play some relationships over? Is there one that got away? One that hurt you so much you never forgot it and carried those wounds for years? Were you the one that hurt others? gah so much thinking that it’s spilling over.

I’ve got one of those funny histories that felt like I’d led a lifetime by the time I turned 22. I’d loved, lost, had a very serious long term relationship that I f*cked p entirely of my own accord I think in retrospect to try and get out of it the only way I knew how. It’s bizarre to think that sometimes I see if that particular person has finally joined Facebook, (just checked again, he still hasn’t) and how nervous I get going through the very tiny town where I lived with him for a while, just in case I catch a glimspe of him, and the life he has now.

That’s not to say I’m still in love or like or hate, I think it’s more that when certain people have an effect on you – it does shape who you are, even a decade later.

I’m not the only one, I think everyone has this. It’s that name you can’t speak without a physical reaction, be it positive or negative. It might be one person, you might have 5 (gawd I don’t even want to start with trawling back through to see which still has an effect and which don’t – It might be the most reflective time of year before 2012 kicks in, but I really don’t want to spend the next few days fighting with my inner voice wondering why I drove all these different times in my life so topsy turvy)

So of course a book across these similar lines has intrigued me, and while I felt the climax was incredibly weak, the general consensus being that anything that makes you think as much as this – the lying awake ruminating on “What if”, and “good lord, I know now about me, but what happened to everyone else” is a good thing.

It takes those feelings from a teenager and a young adult, and thrusts it late into the now, and forces confrontation on the feelings of youth and who you were, the well squished away memories that could rear their head and make you feel young again (be that a good or bad thing, I don’t know.)

I love books that make you think, that kick you out of your bubble, your comfort zone, and force you to put something from the book to your own life and challenge it. Well, yes it’s not always a nice feeling, but how will we ever learn not to make the same mistakes if we aren’t reminded?

Hrm, I have a sudden urge to listen to ‘The Cure’ and relive my old lives. Bring it on.


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