Pulse: Stories Audiobook | Julian Barnes | Audible.com
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Pulse: Stories | [Julian Barnes]

Pulse: Stories

After the best-selling Arthur & George and Nothing to Be Frightened Of, Julian Barnes returns with 14 stories about longing and loss, friendship and love, whose mysterious natures he examines with his trademark wit and observant eye. From an imperial capital in the 18th century to Garibaldi's adventures in the 19th, from the vineyards of Italy to the English seaside in our time, he finds the "stages, transitions, arguments" that define us.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Julian Barnes has such a diverse, excellent collection of publications that there are a dozen books written about his writing. He is the only person to have won both the Prix Medicis and the Prix Femina in France, in addition to numerous English and American honors. In this third collection of short stories, Barnes remains true to his impeccable literary reputation and the common threads that won him such acclaim. Subscribers to The New Yorker will have already seen about a third of these 14 stories, but the collection remains well worth a listen.

For an author of this caliber, with his maniacally detailed ear for dialogue and tight grasp of the subtleties of English etiquette, one doesn't simply ask any bloke with a proper accent to do the narration. One asks David Rintoul: the esteemed stage and screen actor who has worked extensively in the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal National Theater, and who played Darcy in the BBC's definitive adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Rintoul has the gravitas to match this writer's intimate portrayals of love and loss, plus the dexterity to handle this writer's very complicated sense of conversation.

One of the best bits in the collection is an ongoing series of dinner parties, a palate cleanser for the listener, but perhaps the most difficult feat of voice work in the book. The story is entirely composed of dialogue, and Rintoul seamlessly weaves the subtexts together as three or more couples volley witty banter rapidly back and forth. Barnes is well known for skewering British manners, and perhaps that's the real "pulse" this collection has its finger on: a husband and wife negotiating the dissolution of their marriage via their oppositional gardening habits; a silent flirtation between cigarette smokers; an expert hiker trying to assimilate a new love interest into his obsessive habits; and so on. Many of these stories would be heartbreaking if Barnes wasn't so good at laying comedic foundations for tragic character flaws, and Rintoul knows just how to preserve that delicate balance. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

After the best-selling Arthur & George and Nothing to Be Frightened Of, Julian Barnes returns with 14 stories about longing and loss, friendship and love, whose mysterious natures he examines with his trademark wit and observant eye. From an imperial capital in the 18th century to Garibaldi's adventures in the 19th, from the vineyards of Italy to the English seaside in our time, he finds the "stages, transitions, arguments" that define us. A newly divorced real-estate agent can't resist invading his reticent girlfriend's privacy, but the information he finds reveals only his callously shallow curiosity. A couple come together through an illicit cigarette and a song shared over the din of a Chinese restaurant. A widower revisiting the Scottish island he'd treasured with his wife learns how difficult it is to purge oneself of grief. And throughout, friends gather regularly at dinner parties and perfect the art of cerebral, sometimes bawdy banter about the world passing before them. Whether domestic or extraordinary, each story pulses with the resonance, spark, and poignant humor for which Barnes is justly heralded.

©2011 AudioGo (P)2010 Julian Barnes. All rights reserved.

What the Critics Say

“Elegance and versatility - familiar Barnes strengths [that] define this latest story collection.... Another impressive addition to an already impressive oeuvre.” (Kirkus Reviews)

"Barnes’ tales are shrewd, piquant, and moving [and] his gift for deft, acerbic dialogue is finely honed." (Booklist)

“Marvelously inventive . . . Pulse sneaks up on you, and by the end, you cannot help but be moved. These are stories that illuminate characters not through dramatic epiphanies but real, small turns in the road and moments of change. [Barnes’s] prose is rich without being showy; he has a precision and economy of language that at times recalls William Trevor. Above all, Pulse shows a contemporary master working at the height of his ability.” (Jill Owens, The Oregonian)

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