"I don't believe in God, but I miss Him." This book is, among many things, a family memoir, an exchange with Barnes' brother (a philosopher), a meditation on mortality and the fear of death, a celebration of art, an argument with and about God, and a homage to the French writer Jules Renard. Though he warns us that "this is not my autobiography," the result is a tour of the mind of one of our most brilliant writers.
©2008 Julian Barnes (P)2011 AudioGo
"Brilliantly written and also funny...the book is cunningly composed, in fact held together in a rather Proustian fashion...Barnes has an extremely lively mind, and a distinctive voice, which gives a certain welcome jauntiness or gaiety to his darker musings." (Frank Kermode, The New York Review of Books)
“Barbarously intelligent [and] a rare thing in literature . . . marvelously engaging, even uplifting . . . Briskly, rigorously, this unusual book gives us something to think about until that nothingness comes knocking." (NPR)
“Beautifully done . . . an extended meditation on human mortality, but one that is neither clinical nor falsely consoling. Instead, the witty and melancholic author simply converses with us about our most universal fear.” (The Washington Post)
Nothing to be Frightened of is one of the most interesting books I have read/listened to in recent memory. There is no plot or narrative arc just writer Julian Barnes discussing life, death, family, writting, and the French writers who influenced him and like him tried to wrap their heads around the great unknown. The only real argument that Barnes seems to go give is 'he does not know'.
The books is a testament to Barnes writting ability, wit, and engaging the reader as the book is 10 hours of what seems like random thoughts. Once again there are no chapters, narrative arc, sections, or even a biographical narrative he just writes about what might pop in his head.as it relates to a few of the topics discussed above. But despite the lack of narrative this book is absolutely enthralling and accesible. 5 or 10 minutes do not pass when the reader is not given some great statement or turn of phrases that just gets you excited and wants to read on. I wish I could highlight the audiobook because I want to remember certain arguments and thoughts he has.
The book does start to wear out its welcome in the last quarter but even then I would not have dropped the later segments as they too contain some great momments worth the slog to get to.
A most original work,
There are moments here of austere meditation on death that actually made my jaw drop. Passages of such dry humor that made me smile long afterwards. Barnes is an unabashed Francophile, and the memoir is littered with stories of Zola, Flaubert, Reynard, Stendhal and other French writers - which was good learning for me.
This is not necessarily the easiest book I've listened to, but definitely worth sticking with. But if you believe in always looking only for the bright side of life, this book may not be for you. After all, according to Barnes, God might be dead - but death is well, and alive.
Yes, I would recommend this audiobook. This is my first Barnes novel, and to listen to it read by Barnes himself is a real treat. I was so impressed that I bought his other books on Audible, and I find that Alex Jennings does a great job.
I found the beginning interesting and amusing, but the authors obsession with death and dying became maudlin and dreary after awhile. I thought the book was going to be more about God and questioning the existence of supreme beings etc. And i realize that life after death and such issues factor into this, but this book turns into a detailed study of death and the many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many , many... ways of dealing with it. And yes, it sounds stupid to say "many" that many times - substitute a few chapters on death for each "many" and you'll get the idea... almost.
Put simply: I've been an audible customer for over 7 years and this is the first book i bought that i just could not finish.
Following the thought process of Julian Barnes - on a subject that is so often avoided.
He has a remarkable clarity of thought and the process of his enquiry and exploration is fascinating. Interspersed with great humour. A wonderful book.
He wrote it - and so he reads it perfectly (although in some books this isn't the case)
He is altogether a wonderful writer.
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