WHO: Julian Barnes
WHAT: LEVELS OF LIFE
WHEN: Published by Knopf September 24, 2013
WHERE: The author lives in London.
“A book about the death of a spouse that is unlike any other—book or spouse—and thus illuminates the singularity as well as the commonality of grieving.
“Having provocatively addressed the matter of mortality, the award-winning British novelist brings a different perspective to the death of his wife. There is actually little about his long marriage to literary agent Pat Kavanagh, who was successful, respected and private. ‘Grief, like death, is banal and unique,’ he writes, with the sort of matter-of-fact precision that gives this book its power.
“In the two early sections, on ballooning, photography and love, Barnes employs an almost mannered, incantatory tone that seems more like a repression of emotion than an expression of it, making readers wonder how these meditations on perspective might ultimately cohere.
“’You put together two people who have not been put together before; and sometimes the world is changed, sometimes not,’ he writes about a doomed love affair between a famous actress and balloon adventurer. ‘They may crash and burn, or burn and crash. But sometimes, something new is made, and then the world is changed. Together, in that first exaltation, that first roaring sense of uplift, they are greater than their two separate selves.’
“Just as it took five years for Barnes to address his wife’s death in print, it takes two sections of establishing tone and perspective before he writes of his mourning directly, though of course, he has been writing about it from the start of the book. ‘I mourn her uncomplicatedly, and absolutely,’ he writes. The perspectives of height and depth tie the first two sections to the third, where love and death can’t ever be resolved but rather, somehow survived. His reticence is as eloquent as it is soul-shuddering.” —KIRKUS, starred review
“A delicately oblique, emotionally tricky geography of grief.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“This bright wand of a book is testimony to Julian Barnes’ commanding artistry, delving intelligence, and high imagination as writes of being ‘griefstruck’ with stunningly vital and tonic perception.”
—Donna Seaman, BOOKLIST
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Kathy Zuckerman | 212-572-2105 | email@example.com