Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday Intro: Arthur & George

A child wants to see.  It always begins like this, and it began like this then.  A child wanted to see. 
He was able to walk, and could reach up to a door handle.  He did this with nothing that could be called purpose, merely the instinctive tourism of infancy.  A door was there to be pushed; he walked in, stopped, looked.  There was nobody to observe him; he turned and walked away, carefully shutting the door behind him.
What he saw there became his first memory.  A small boy, a room, a bed, closed curtains leaking afternoon light.  By the time he came to describe it publicly, sixty years had passed.  How many internal retellings had smoothed and adjusted the plain words he finally used?  Doubtless it still seemed as clear as on the day itself.  The door, the room, the light, the bed, and what was on the bed: a “white, waxen thing.”

Arthur & George
by Julian Barnes

I enjoyed The Sense of an Ending so much that my first instinct upon finishing was to turn back to page one and begin again. While that reread is still a possibility, I decided to explore more of Barnes work instead. Arthur & George was the only other novel available at my library.

But... We're off to Florida in a few days and I hate traveling with library books, especially hardcovers. And the TBR Double Dare is now underway, too. The first thirty pages convinced me to return to Arthur & George in a few months. In the meantime, I will begin our next book club selection (Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow) and choose a couple books from my shelf for the trip.

Tuesday Intros is hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea.


  1. Speaking of headers, Ma'am...this one is gobsmacking. Just beautiful. Arthur and George has been sitting around here for too long, I see that now. And I'm dying to read The Sense of an Ending. About time Mr. Barnes got his due, eh? Enjoy Florida!

  2. I may have to check this one out from the library since I am not under a "ban". ;o). I loved Ragtime.

  3. I found that book on a bench in Barcelona as I was tramping it round there. I stayed on the bench, in the Olympic park all day in the sun reading it.

    When I got to the end I looked out and saw the seagulls wheeling away from a storm and sea, put my hands in my pockets, and trudged down the hill, leaving the book for the next person...

    ...Although the book is not the finest ever, it is so tied to that moment and feeling of peace to make it special to me.

    Other Barnes is good though, I like the Sammy Johnson bit in England, England and the History of the World in 10 1/2 chapters is pretty decent too,

  4. Kaye - It got better after that, too!

    DS - It's definitely time to give Barnes a chance. I thought The Sense of an Ending was a beautifully written, thoughtful book.

    Nise' - LOL! Barnes is definitely worth reading. I'm glad to hear you loved Ragtime - read the first 25 pages this afternoon and am hooked.

    I lodge in Grub Street - That is the most amazing reading experience story I've heard! When something like that happens, I think the book is forever tied to time/place in the reader's mind. I'll think of your story when it's my time to read Arthur & George.

  5. JoAnn...I loved A Sense of An Ending as well (review later this week, I hope).

    This intro sounds awesome....another about memory...love it.

    Have fun in FL.

  6. Diane - I had a feeling you would love The Sense of an Ending, too. Don't think I'll get a review done before we leave, but will keep an eye out for yours.

  7. Everywhere I look lately it's Julian Barnes. How is it that I've never even heard of this author?

  8. I would totally read that book as well. What a wonderful intro!

    Have a blast in Florida and relax, enjoying the warm sunshine while the rest of us are huddled away and jealous! :) I actually just moved from Florida back to Virginia, and I fear it's going to take me quite some time to acclimate back to this colder weather!

  9. Such beautiful writing was my first response. "Tourism of infancy" and "leaking afternoon light" are word treats. I know I'm going to enjoy Julian Barnes.

  10. This book sounds quite good. I am also going to check out Sense of an Ending as you and Diane liked it. I've never read anything by Julian Barnes...love finding good, new (to me!) authors.

    Have a great trip!

  11. Enjoy your trip to Florida. I have a Sense of an Ending on my list for 2012!

  12. I liked it...wonder what was on the bed!!???

    have a great time in Florida and make sure to pack some of that heat and sunshine into a jar while you're there to enjoy this winter!

  13. Softdrink - Now that you've heard of him, go find one of his books! ;-)

    Natalie - It's got to be tough to readjust to winter weather. My in-laws have a place in Sanibel, so that's our usual Florida destination - love those beaches!

    Margot - Love that expression! Barnes' writing is definitely filled with word treats.

    Amy - The Sense of an Ending gets better and better the more I think about it. I hope you are feeling better.

    Kathleen - You're in for a treat with The Sense of an Ending.

    Staci - The white waxen thing was actually his grandmother's dead body - that's explained in the next paragraph. The girls all have different spring breaks this year, so we're taking our family vacation before spring semester starts.

  14. 'Arthur and George' is certainly a very fine novel. As an expert on the Edalji family, though, I spent the whole time thinking about the extent to which it reflects the historical record. There are points at which it departs deliberately from actual events, and there are points at which there are (I think) unwitting distortions and mistakes. For a critique of the book in these terms see my 'Outrage: The Edalji Five and the Shadow of Sherlock Holmes', Vanguard Press. Details are at www.outrage-rogeroldfield.co.uk.


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