A NEW YORK TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A memoir on mortality as only Julian Barnes can write it, one that touches on faith and science and family as well as a rich array of exemplary figures who over the centuries have confronted the same questions he now poses about the most basic fact of life: its inevitable extinction. If the fear of death is “the most rational thing in the world,” how does one contend with it? An atheist at twenty and an agnostic at sixty, Barnes looks into the various arguments for, against, and with God, and at his own bloodline, which has become, following his parents’ death, another realm of mystery.
Deadly serious, masterfully playful, and surprisingly hilarious, Nothing to Be Frightened Of is a riveting display of how this supremely gifted writer goes about his business and a highly personal tour of the human condition and what might follow the final diagnosis.
In this virtuosic memoir, Barnes (Arthur & George) makes little mention of his personal or professional life, allowing his audience very limited ingress into his philosophical musings on mortality. But like Alice tumbling through the rabbit hole, readers will find themselves granted access to an unexpectedly large world, populated with Barnes's "daily companions" and his chosen "ancestors" ("most of them dead, and quite a few of them French," like Jules Renard, Flaubert, Zola). "This is not 'my autobiography,' " Barnes emphasizes in this hilariously unsentimental portrait of his family and childhood. "Part of what I'm doing which may seem unnecessary is trying to work out how dead they are." And in this exploration of what remains, the author sifts through unreliable memory to summon up how his ancestors real and assumed contemplated death and grappled with the perils and pleasures of "pit-gazing." If Barnes's self-professed "amateur" philosophical rambling feels occasionally self-indulgent, his vivid description delights.
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Nothing To Be Frightened Of
Very disappointing after reading A Sense of an Ending! EAF