Genre: Short Stories

Happy Moscow by Andrei Platonov

Posted October 14, 2016 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Short Stories / 0 Comments

Happy Moscow by Andrei PlatonovTitle: Happy Moscow (Goodreads)
Author: Andrei Platonov
Translator: Robert Chandler
Published: Vintage, 1991
Pages: 263
Genres: Short Stories
My Copy: Library Book

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“Life has become better, comrades, life has become merrier” – Joseph Stalin

Happy Moscow was an unfinished novel by Andrei Platonov, finally published in 1991 and yet it still became one of his greatest works. It is believed that Platonov started the novel in about 1932 but abandoned it a few years later. Happy Moscow tells the story of Moscow (or Moskva) Ivanovna Chestnova, an orphan trying to make her way through life. Named after the Soviet capital, Moscow becomes a metaphor for life under Stalin.

The story of a woman’s struggle through life is an obvious metaphor for Russia’s own journey starting with the revolution. Starting off with a clear and ascending life however as the years go by, life becomes more and more complex. Dreams turn into distant memories as responsibility and bumps along the way happen. While Andrei Platonov was a communist, his novels were often banned due to his criticism towards Stalin regarding collectivization and other policies. It is easy to see why Platonov would leave this novel unfinished out of fear of the consequences.

This anarchic satire is very odd to read, it is fragmented due to it being left unfinished and Platonov’s experimental or avant-garde style. There is a complex struggle that comes out in the writing, making this more of the writings of a man trying to understand his own views. This alienating struggle that unfolds on the page is what made Happy Moscow an interesting read because Platonov’s writing style was a struggle. Platonov is a philosopher, using his writing to explore his ideas, often drawing on Marxism or Leninism while criticising Stalinism. Stalin obviously did not see Platonov as having any worth in literature but his feelings were some what complex, calling him a “fool, idiot, scoundrel” and then “a prophet, a genius” in the same meeting. Platonov was eventually arrested and exiled to a labour camp as an anti-communist (anti-Stalinist would be a better suited term).

The book I read contained a few short stories and a screenplay with the unfinished novel Happy Moscow. These stories include ‘The Moscow Violin’, ‘On The First Socialist Tragedy’, ‘Father’ and ‘Love for the Motherland’. While all had their own themes they all seem to have similar threads that tie them back to Happy Moscow. Andrei Platonov was a difficult author to tackle, but I am glad I did it. There are a few more of his novels I would like to get to including The Foundation Pit but I think they will be in the distant future


The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

Posted May 25, 2016 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Short Stories / 4 Comments

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony MarraTitle: The Tsar of Love and Techno (Goodreads)
Author: Anthony Marra
Published: Hogarth, 2015
Pages: 320
Genres: Short Stories
My Copy: Paperback

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When I first read A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, I knew I had found a new favourite author in Anthony Marra. I was constantly recommending the novel to everyone and always took notice when someone suggested a book was the next Constellation. They were right with both All that is Solid Melts into Air and Girl at War. When I heard that Marra had another book coming out I was so excited. Then when it was released, there was no Australian publication and it would cost about $50 to get a copy delivered to me. I thought about just getting the audiobook but I really wanted a physical copy. Thankfully the Perth Writers Festival announced Anthony Marra as a guest and we quickly got an Australian edition of The Tsar of Love and Techno.

Unlike A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, The Tsar of Love and Techno is a collection of interconnecting stories. While it could be considered a collection of short stories, there is a common thread that allows this book to be read more like a novel. Beginning in 1930s Leningrad where a failed portrait artist finds himself with the task of airbrushing people out of existence. The people being removed from the pictures are the people the state have sent off to the Gulag for their counter-revolutionary behaviours. He finds himself removing his brother from pictures but instead of whipping him out of the memories completely he ends up putting his face in the crowds of other pictures.

There is something wonderfully captivating about the writing of Anthony Marra, and I think it goes further than just my love of Russian literature. I cannot help but be absorbed in his stories, eager to know what happens next. I love the way he explores Russian history and looks at ideas of war, censorship, family, love and the soviet government. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena does a good job of exploring the lives of ordinary people during war and The Tsar of Love and Techno is all about the people living in Russia during different periods of time.

While I think A Constellation of Vital Phenomena will always have a special place in my heart and everyone should read that book, The Tsar of Love and Techno is still worth the attention. I know some people have issues reading short story collections but I think this works as a novel. I am eagerly waiting the next Anthony Marra novel but I know I will have to wait a while. I just hope I do not have to suffer the same fate with The Tsar of Love and Techno, and Australia will release at the same time as the rest of the world.


A Young Doctor’s Notebook by Mikhail Bulgakov

Posted May 14, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Russian Lit Project, Short Stories / 0 Comments

A Young Doctor’s Notebook by Mikhail BulgakovTitle: A Young Doctor's Notebook (Goodreads)
Author: Mikhail Bulgakov
Translator: Hugh Aplin
Published: Alma Classics, 1926
Pages: 155
Genres: Short Stories
My Copy: Paperback

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A Young Doctor’s Notebook (also known as A Country Doctor’s Notebook) is a semi-autobiographical collection of short stories published early in Mikhail Bulgakov writing life in Russian medical journals. Bulgakov was educated at the Medical Faculty of the Kiev University, though his interest lied in theatre. When World War I broke out, he volunteered with the Red Cross. He was sent directly to the front lines to work as a medical doctor and was badly injured on two separate occasions.

In 1916 Mikhail Bulgakov graduated and was quickly appointed as a provincial physician to the Smolensk province. He found himself performing procedures he had only seen once or twice while at medical school. The seven stories in this collection explore the ignorance or stubbornness of people towards medical treatment, an issue that is still very relevant today. While A Young Doctor’s Notebook was set in the small village doctor in revolutionary Russia, the stories were all written in the 1920s.

Like most editions of A Young Doctor’s Notebook, my copy of the book came with one extra story called ‘Morphine’. This was also published in a medical journal and is much different to the other stories. ‘Morphine’ is yet another semi-autobiographical story that explores Mikhail Bulgakov’s own struggles with a morphine addiction. His injuries in the war lead to chronic stomach pains and the easy access to pain relief quickly lead to a morphine addiction. Bulgakov did end up leaving the medical profession to pursue a career in writing stage plays and was able abandon the use of morphine.

A Young Doctor’s Notebook is a wonderful collection of stories that illustrate Mikhail Bulgakov’s humour and writing style. If you have seen the TV adaptation, you may notice some similarities to the story, blending the seven short stories and his other story ‘morphine’ together to deliver a fabulous dark comedy. I binge watched the show over a weekend and I was not ready for it to end, so I picked up this collection and this quickly started an obsession with the life of Bulgakov.

While Mikhail Bulgakov is mainly known for his book The Master and Margarita (a book I recently re-read), A Young Doctor’s Notebook may be a more accessible book. It allows you to get a taste of Bulgakov’s style and humour with the seven short stories. I read an edition that was translated by Hugh Aplin and he is quickly becoming a favourite of mine and I will be hunting down everything he has translated (he translated mainly Bulgakov and Dostoevsky). Learning more about Mikhail Bulgakov’s life does give me extra enjoyment and context when reading his books. I am slowly reading a collection of his letters and diaries in a book called Manuscripts Don’t Burn, so you may see a lot more about Bulgakov on this blog.


The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Posted April 28, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Short Stories / 0 Comments

The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins GilmanTitle: The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories (Goodreads)
Author: Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Published: Dover Thrift, 1892
Pages: 70
Genres: Short Stories
My Copy: Personal Copy

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In the title story “The Yellow Wallpaper” Charlotte Perkins Gilman tells the story of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. A specialist recommends that she takes rest cure; a treatment in which has her lying in bed all day and only allowed two house of intellectual activities a day. After a few months of staring at the walls, things are far from improving.

While this is a collection of short stories, I am focusing on the title story simple because it gives you a sense of what to expect when reading Charlotte Perkins Gilman. “The Yellow Wallpaper” explores the decline of the protagonist’s health, both physically and mentally. Written in a series of diary entries, the story not only looks at depression but, on a deeper level, gender roles. The doctor and her husband are portrayed as repressors; while their intentions are to help her heal they never take into account her own opinion.

This in turn critiques that position of the woman, especially when it comes to the institution of marriage. Gilman looks at marriage as a hierarchy; the male is actively working and knows what is best for the house, while the wife is put in charge of the domestic jobs (cooking, cleaning and so on). The wife becomes a second class citizen; a servant only there to serve her husband. When the protagonist of “The Yellow Wallpaper” gets sick she is demoted further and her role becomes similar to a petulant child.

While I have focused on the story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, these similar themes are found throughout this collection. What I found so satisfying is the way Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses irony to express her opinions. The use of both verbal and dramatic irony is found in all her stories but I enjoyed the sarcasm the most. There is a lot of symbolism and motifs within the stories well worth exploring that really empathises her point.

I loved this collection of short stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, there are so many interesting topics worth exploring and I used “The Yellow Wallpaper” to emphases and provide a glimpse into what you can expect. I am determined to read a whole lot more of Gilman’s works, I fell in love with her writing style and got so much pleasure out of reading these stories. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories is a collection of stories well worth picking up and adding to your personal library.


The Unamericans by Molly Antopol

Posted April 21, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Short Stories / 4 Comments

The Unamericans by Molly AntopolTitle: The Unamericans (Goodreads)
Author: Molly Antopol
Published: Atlantic Books, 2014
Pages: 261
Genres: Short Stories
My Copy: Library Book

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The world of short stories has had a rocky history, but every now and then there are authors that make you excited about a collection of stories again. When I think about great short story collections, I think Raymond Carver with his book What We Talk About When We Talk about Love, George Sanders (especially his recent collection Tenth of December) and now Molly Antopol with her debut collection The UnAmericans. Even I have to admit that I have often struggled with short stories but then something like The UnAmericans comes along and I feel ready to take on more collections.

Molly Antopol is a lecturer at Stanford University where she teaches as part of their writing program. In 2013, she was one of the recipients of the “5 Under 35” award from the National Book Foundation, which highlights five young writers to watch and she has been someone well worth watching. Her debut, The UnAmericans was nominated for countless awards including the National Jewish Book Award and the National Book Award. Though her collection of short stories did not take home any major awards, this is the start of a very promising career for Molly Antopol and is someone I plan to follow closely.

The UnAmericans is a collection full of stories about families, heritage, identity and all the things that define us as humans. With a strong focus on immigration this book is a post 9/11 exploration into America. Exploring the lives of all those people that might have felt excluded as American due to difference in heritage, skin colour, religion, and political or moral beliefs. While it does not typically focus on America or events post 9/11, it is the kind of story that could have only been told after a tragedy like that day.

Each character is richly developed, coming from places like Kiev, Prague, Tel Avid and Soviet Moscow, the stories all explore the same similar themes but in away that never feels repetitive or preachy. Antopol appears to be interested in exploring peoples differences and similarities and trying to get the message across that we are all the same. All the different places these people live in and they all want the very same things, love and acceptance. While their heritage often plays a big part in their identity it doesn’t make them UnAmerican; we are all humans.

I was extremely impressed and it made me want to read more short stories; if Molly Antopol can give so much depth into her characters as she did in The UnAmericans then it makes me excited for the rest of the genre. I did go on to read another collection of short stories right after this one, this time it was by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I hate to say it; The UnAmericans was great but then going on to read The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories, changed everything yet again.


The American Lover by Rose Tremain

Posted March 18, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Short Stories / 2 Comments

The American Lover by Rose TremainTitle: The American Lover (Goodreads)
Author: Rose Tremain
Published: Chatto & Windus, 2014
Pages: 240
Genres: Short Stories
My Copy: Library Book

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Rose Tremain is a name I have heard so often but never had the chance to read on of her books; in fact her name is familiar but I couldn’t tell you anything about her books. She has published thirteen novels including The Road Home (which won the Orange Prize in 2008) and Music and Silence (winner of the Whitbread award in 1999). She taught creative writing at the University of East Anglia until she was appointed chancellor in 2013 and she is married to Romantic biographer Richard Holmes (not that her marriage affects her writing, just an interesting fact). She has also written five collections of short stories including her latest The American Lover.

While I sometimes struggle to read and review short story collections, I still wish to talk about them (just so I have a record). I picked up The American Lover because it mentioned a story about a famous Russian writer’s (story was inspired by Tolstoy’s life) final days living in a stationmaster’s cottage outside of Moscow. As most people know, I am a fan of Russian literature and books about Russia itself. When I looked at the author’s name, I was excited even more, it was a chance to finally dip into the writing style of Rose Tremain.

Without going into all the stories within the book, Tremain goes into some very interesting topics from transgressive love, sex, reflections of life and even a very unusual story about Daphne du Maurier. What I found in this collection is that Rose Tremain has a great ability to create characters and express emotions. There are some brilliantly dark and sometimes comical moments the she masterfully crafted into her stories. She has produced a collection centred around so many different emotions and skilfully managed to fit them into such short stories.

I really love the characters and emotions expressed in these stories and really makes me want to experience Rose Tremain’s style in long form. However I am not sure which novel to start with and would love some recommendations. The American Lover was a brilliant way to dip into Tremain’s writing and I am so glad to have finally had a chance to do so. If her writing abilities work just as well in her novels, she may have found a new fan.


Merciless Gods by Christos Tsiolkas

Posted December 13, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Short Stories / 8 Comments

Merciless Gods by Christos TsiolkasTitle: Merciless Gods (Goodreads)
Author: Christos Tsiolkas
Published: Allen & Unwin, 2014
Pages: 304
Genres: Short Stories
My Copy: Paperback

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As most people know, I am a big fan of transgressive fiction and in Australia there is one author that doesn’t shy away from a touch or taboo subject. This author is Christos Tsiolkas and he is best known for his two recent novels The Slap and Barracuda. Merciless Gods is his first collection of short stories and deals mainly with sexuality, family and identity.

Author of six novels, Christos Tsiolkas was born in 1965 to Greek immigrant parents. Reading through his novels you quickly get the sense of what it must have been like growing up in suburbia as a Greek immigrant and a homosexual. He likes to explore these themes constantly and you get an idea of just how backwards people’s thinking can be. Then with his breakout novel The Slap, he challenged everyone’s thoughts, tapping into the universal dilemma around discipline and child-rearing.

Merciless Gods seems to be more of a “return to his roots” collection of short stories, which shares similarities with first novel Loaded at any of his other. There is this whole theme about social and personal struggle that play out within these stories. I am impressed with the way Tsiolkas challenges people’s views; particularly when it comes to sexuality and immigrants. There was a particular story that he wrote in Greek and then translated into English that was very powerful.

Christos Tsiolkas has officially become an ‘auto-buy’ author for me now and I will have to read the rest of his backlist sometime soon. Merciless Gods is hard-hitting and not for the faint of heart, he is pushing the boundaries but he does this really well. I am not sure when these stories were originally written, I think that will be interesting to know. However if you have never read this great Australian author, this is probably not the best place to start. Maybe begin with The Slap or Barracuda before working your way up to Loaded and Merciless Gods.


Tales of Terror and Mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle

Posted November 29, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime, Short Stories / 0 Comments

Tales of Terror and Mystery by Arthur Conan DoyleTitle: Tales of Terror and Mystery (Goodreads)
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Published: Knopf Doubleday, 1913
Pages: 224
Genres: Crime, Short Stories
My Copy: Library Book

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When we talk about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes always seems to be one of the first things that spring to mind. Sadly for this Scottish writer, this turned into both a blessing and a curse. Firstly, Sherlock Holmes remains a seminal part of crime writing and English literature, but limited the writer’s chances in exploring something different. In 1893 Doyle famously tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes in the story “The Final Problem” but due to public outcry and high demands the eccentric detective returned in the 1901 novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.

While Arthur Conan Doyle is known for his prolific writing, he didn’t gain much recognition for his works outside of Sherlock Holmes. Even though some critics believe his historical novels are some of his best works and The Lost World being the inspiration behind Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. I picked up Doyle’s 1923 short story collection Tales of Terror and Mystery as part of our book club, but this afforded me the opportunity to explore his writing outside of Sherlock.

Tales of Terror and Mystery is a collection of thirteen short stories broken up into two topics; six stories on terror and seven on mystery. The book kicked off on a positive gear, the tales of terror are almost like a homage to Edgar Allen Poe. Even the short story “The New Catacomb” has a remarkable similarity to Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”. What I enjoyed about these tales of terror was the way Doyle went a little darker and macabre to what I expected from this author.

Having such a great experience with the tales of terror it was a shame to move onto the tales of mystery. Here is a fun experiment; replace the protagonist name with Sherlock Holmes in these stories and see if they feel any different. It doesn’t work in all the stories; I wanted Conan Doyle to explore different styles of writing but I felt like the tales of mystery was almost like Holmes stories at times and the rest just didn’t work too well at all.

Some of the stories with Tales of Terror and Mystery worked really well but then the rest just feel short. I loved that Arthur Conan Doyle seemed to be influenced by great short story writers like Edgar Allen Poe or H.P. Lovecraft in some of the stories. However for the most part I was left wanting something a little more. Also, like what I have found with Doyle’s writing, there are some incredibly racist moments within this collection, with stories like “The Japanned Box” and “The Jews Breastplate”. After reading The Sign of Four earlier this year I have come to expect this colonialism nature from his writing. I like that some of these stories were macabre but overall I think this lacked the stylistic approach I am used to from this author.


The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Posted November 7, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic, Short Stories / 0 Comments

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey ChaucerTitle: The Canterbury Tales (Goodreads)
Author: Geoffrey Chaucer
Translator: Nevill Coghill
Published: Penguin, 1390
Pages: 504
Genres: Classic, Short Stories
My Copy: Paperback

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The Canterbury Tales is a collection of over 20 stories which were written near the end of the Fourteenth Century, just prior to 1400. While this is often referred to as an essential in medieval fiction, it is possible to narrow it down a little further and say this is a glimpse of life during the time of the Hundred Years’ War. The collection of tales helps break up this book a bit but it also contains a loose narrative framework throughout the entire The Canterbury Tales. I could go into deep analysis of each tale without doing a disservice to the quality and diversity of Geoffrey Chaucer’s large work. However in an effort to talk about The Canterbury Tales in its entirety, I may have to resort to broad analysis and generalities.

The Fourteenth Century was a violent and unstable period of time in English history; not only was the Hundred Years War raging with the French (1340-1450) but there was the Black Death (1348), famines and rebellions (the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381). This was an unstable time, things were changing; even the Catholic Church which often had a community-building nature was corrupt and abusing its power. Near the end of the 14th Century the Church was a mess, there was the sale of church offices as well as indulgences and pardons as well as greed and moral corruption. The Western Schism (or Papal Schism) took place from 1378 to 1418 where the Church was divided and several men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. This should give you an idea of just what kind of instability the people in The Canterbury Tales faced.

However this book explored more than this instability; it is a medieval tapestry exploring the whole feel of this period but it might be easier to narrow it down to three major themes. The political, since The Norman conquest of England  (1066) the country was gradually processing toward political consolidation and unification, a theme that comes through a number of times within this book. Social and economic changes, following the story of many people around England as urbanisation takes affect and London becomes a more modern city. Finally The Canterbury Tales explores the cultural changes of a changing time; social classes are shifting but still play a big role within this country.

I know I am probably looking at this book through modern eyes but this is the best way I found to wrap my head around what is written. Luckily I didn’t have to read this book in Middle English and got to rely on Nevill Coghill’s translation but I am not going to deny that this was a very difficult book to get through. I found trying to understand the situation as if England changed from medieval into a modern society helped me pick up on the social, economical and political changes. I know London didn’t become an urban city like we know it today but it helped me follow the shifting times. I am not sure if viewing the book this way helped me understand it better or sent me down the wrong path but it doesn’t matter, is there a right or wrong way to interpret literature?

Symbolism, imagery and allegory play a huge part in Chaucer’s tales but it is hard to go into details on this topic because they change from story to story. What I found surprising about this book is not the beautiful poetic lines but how real and raw the emotions played out in each tales. I read an exploration into marriage, growing old, morality, rape, sexual pleasure and even anti-social behaviour. I never expected this from the book and it really surprised me. From a general overview The Canterbury Tales looks at a changing time but each tale goes into a personal look into different people’s lives.

As the narrator, Geoffrey Chaucer plays with the narrative from tale to tale; sometimes he comes off as naïve but then he can be very knowledgeable. I picked up on how  heavy he is on the irony, but in all honesty I didn’t have enough knowledge of the times to be able to explore this as much as I would have liked. If it wasn’t for the fact that I read this for a university subject I might have really struggled with this book. A lecture and some reading guides really helped me get something out of this book but like I said, I don’t have enough knowledge of medieval history to fully grasp this book in its entirety.

I mentioned to my dad that I had to read this book and he told me not to bother; he called it crude and vulgar but that only made me excited. I understand now that he had to read this book for high school and found it difficult but I can’t say vulgar is a good word to describe this book. Sure, there are some crude scenes but life is never full of well-mannered moral people. Chaucer explores life at this time and doesn’t shy away from the tough topics; but I think that is what makes this book so great.


Levels of Life by Julian Barnes

Posted September 19, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction, Short Stories / 0 Comments

Levels of Life by Julian BarnesTitle: Levels of Life (Goodreads)
Author: Julian Barnes
Published: Random House, 2013
Pages: 128
Genres: Non-Fiction, Short Stories
My Copy: Personal Copy

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“Every love story is a potential grief story.”

It is official, I’m now a huge fan of Julian Barnes. Having read and enjoyed The Sense of an Ending and Metroland, I knew I had to read more of his novels. I did try Through the Window and found his essays challenging but mainly because the man is far too intelligent and I couldn’t keep up. I decided to try Levels of Life simply because I wanted to see how Barnes connects love and loss with ballooning and photography.

“Love is the meeting point of truth and magic. Truth, as in photography; magic, as in ballooning.”

Told in three masterful parts, Levels of Life tells stories that don’t seem connected but Barnes manages tol fit together. He is a master at the metaphor and this book told in narrative form tells the highs and lows of love. Part one “The Sin of Height” tells a narrative of Colonel Frederick Burnaby, an English soldier and traveller who crossed the English Channel in a hot air balloon in 1882. This story focuses on the obsessions that both Burnaby and French photographer Nadar had towards ballooning.

The next part, called “On the Level” looks at Colonel Burnaby and the French exotic actress, Sarah Bernhardt. Both shared an interest in ballooning which led to love. Two larger than life characters and a love that could never last, while Burnaby believed it was possible, Bernhardt thought differently. Here we have two stories; one depicting the highs of passion and love and the second, the idea of love fizzling out which only leaves one last essay.

“You put together two people who have not been put together before. Sometimes it is like that first attempt to harness a hydrogen balloon to a fire balloon: do you prefer crash and burn, or burn and crash?”

But sometimes it works, and something new is made, and the world is changed. Then, at some point, sooner or later, for this reason or that, one of them is taken away. And what is taken away is greater than the sum of what was there. This may not be mathematically possible; but it is emotionally possible.

“The Loss of Depth” is the last essay and is the story of the loss Julian Barnes suffered when his wife died of a brain tumour in 2008. This is a tender account of dealing with grief. The build-up of the other two essays just made the last one heart breaking and I found myself crying (something I don’t often do). Barnes explores life after losing his wife and at times it is a little funny, yet remains very moving.

“Initially, you continue doing what you used to do with her, out of familiarity, love, the need for a pattern. Soon, you realise the trap you are in: caught between repeating what you did with her, but without her, and so missing her; or doing new things, things you never did with her, and so missing her differently. You feel sharply the loss of shared vocabulary, of tropes, teases, short cuts, injokes, sillinesses, faux rebukes, amatory footnotes – all those obscure references rich in memory but valueless if explained to an outsider.” 

Julian Barnes managed to capture love and loss so perfectly, I felt like adding so many quotes to this review but I had to hold off. This is the type of book that will sit with me for a long time and I tear up just thinking about it. I’m amazed at Barnes’ skill as a writer and how he fit so much beauty and so many emotions into a short book is beyond me. I am going to have to read every book I can find from Julian Barnes.