From the hairdessing salon where an old man measures out his life in haircuts, to the concert hall where a music lover carries out an obsessive campaign against those who cough in concerts; from the woman reading elaborate recipes to her sick husband as a substitute for sex, to the woman 'incarcerated' in an old people's home beginning a correspondence with an author that enriches both their lives - all Barnes' characters, in their different ways, square up to death and rage against the dying light.
All [the stories] are a joy to read as Barnes glides between forms... Each story is distinct and indelible, a tribute to the form. Above all they make you think about growing old and what, if anything, can be done about it.
Masterly...his best stories have a strong air of Maupassant about them...extraordinarily effective...a compelling series of vignettes of old age, executed with great skill
Sheer intelligence and acute observation carry the whole production...helps sustain a reader's faith in literature
His stories have a photographic clarity, a psychological realism that embraces extremes of feeling...with a deliciously wry streak
Barnes's steely wit finds best expression when inhabiting the anguished and angry... Their brilliance rather plays upon our petty furies and failures, embellishing them with self-deprecatory wryness...entrancing and curiously cheering
No year is complete without a bit of reading reflection, and as we gaze at 2019's shelves, we're more than a bit pleased with the boldness and breadth of the last 12 months of VINTAGE books. From an insider's look at the realities of modern-day poverty to an acclaimed expose of the data bias towards men, and a long-awaited, Booker-winning dystopian smash hit, here are 10 of the biggest highlights.
An extract from the archive edition of Metroland
Man Booker Prize-winner Julian Barnes discusses the cover design of his new novel, The Noise of Time, with Suzanne Dean. Joined by Alex Clark, they recall key moments in their twenty-year working relationship, as well as the iconic covers that have been created.