I've had this one on hold at the library for months so when it finally arrived yesterday I reluctantly put aside my other reading material to make sure I could get through this one and pass it on to the next person who has been waiting to read it for months. What started as a chore quickly became a joy as I found myself reading the book in two sittings in less than 24 hours unable to put it down, utterly transfixed.
It wasn't that I liked the characters…in fact they kind of got on my nerves…and at one point I remember thinking maybe I shouldn't, by my own criteria, like this book as much as I do. Like…it's a book about a kind of pathetic middle class retired man having a mid-life crisis, obsessing over his past failed relationships and not being very self-aware and kind of pathetic and whiny, which usually would just sort of annoy the shit out of me…yet the story is told in such a way as to draw you in completely. I sort of figured out the "secret" to the plot early on but wasn't totally sure how it would reveal itself so I had to keep turning the pages, like it was a mystery, because I needed to know what happens in the end. But it wasn't just the thrill of the story that drew me in…it was the way Julian Barnes uses a story about someone's past coming back to haunt them as a device to talk about the nature of time and memory and history and storytelling and discuss philosophical questions about the meaning of life. I will definitely read more of his books in the future.