Staring At The Sun Paperback – 5 Nov 2009
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"None of Mr Barnes's previous work... has quite prepared us for the bewildering maturity of Staring at the Sun...it dazzles in depth" (Harpers & Queen)
"Brilliant... Mr Barnes's work is at the forefront of a new internationalization of British fiction" (New York Times)
"A remarkable and risk-taking book, breezily philosophical and light-fingered, funny and also genuinely affecting in that it touches both the heart and the head" (Glasgow Herald)
'Teasing fullness, wit, incisiveness, gentleness and generosity' Times Literary SupplementSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
After at least the last two novels I vowed to myself that I would never read another page by him because he is such a clever-clogs, and good heavens does he know it. For all that, whenever my eye lights on something bearing his name I keep picking it up, because he is just so exceptionally talented. He is talented as a writer, as a novelist and as an essayist. You will find coherent and convincing portraiture in this book, hung around the 100-year life of Jean, but really no less persuasive in the depiction of Leslie, Gregory, Michael, Tommy Prosser, Rachel and even Olive. That would form a good basis for any novel, but until near the end of the book I kept wondering whether the plot-line was really a device to string together a series of essays by the ultra-intellectual Mr Barnes. The lengthy sequence on what it must be like to die in an airliner crash is a rather blatant intrusion on the general narrative, but being the craftsman he is Barnes can get away with even this as being related in a tenuous way to the overall theme.
The reason why he can do that is that he keeps it skilfully vague and uncertain what the overall theme actually is.Read more ›
A book that tells the 100 year story of one woman, taking us from the nineteen twenties to the twenty twenties. It is enormously sympathetic. The book poses many questions about life, and credits the reader with the intelligence to find his or her own answers.
Moving, and ultimately quite melancholy, it is the sort of book that will leave you feeling emotionally richer.
There is a review quote on the back of the book which says "Undoubtedly much too good to win the Booker prize"
Ostensibly this is about the 100-year life of Jean Serjeant, though in fact we flit rapidly through most of her life, touching briefly on a friendship with a fighter pilot in 1941, then her lousy marriage to a policeman, then her relationship with her son, all of it fairly cursory. Uncle Leslie keeps popping up, but not for any obvious reason.
This isn't the first book I've read where the plot appears to be a flimsy framework from which to hang a few otherwise unrelated ideas, but it is one of the most obvious cases. The author wants to say something about tourism in China, so he has Jean take a holiday there. This also provides an excuse to make a few comments on flying and death. Barnes wants to say something about the Grand Canyon, so he has her go there too. He obviously doesn't want to say much about most of her life, so we skip huge swathes of it, leaping across decades in a matter of a seconds.
Right from the beginning of the book, with the fighter pilot watching the sunrise twice by diving 10,000 feet, I'm thinking, okay so what's the significance of that? Where is it leading? I'm expecting some great coming together later on, some point to it all, like the bit where Jean can't get pregnant for 20 years, but then suddenly she does, a year after her periods stop. Surely there's a point to that? But no, apparently not. It's just a random event. Perhaps that is the point, that things happen for no reason. But in a novel we like the dots to get joined up a bit. In this story they never do.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Delightful, fictional portrait of Jean Sarjeant (b. 1923) from childhood to old age and still alive, even now, because the book ends somewhere around 2022. Read morePublished on 9 Jun. 2014 by Alfred J. Kwak
We all know truth changes with knowledge and with the individuals inner perceptions and with this combination sometimes wisdom is born. Read morePublished on 29 Jun. 2013 by Hilary Dennis
If you are familiar with Barnes' works you'll know what to expect - a whimsical trip around the meaning of life, death, the universe etc. inspired by Monty Python. Read morePublished on 25 Jun. 2013 by John Fitzpatrick
After reading Arthur and George I have purchased other Julian Barnes books and my expectations were high. Read morePublished on 26 Mar. 2013 by Alexander Kreator
Delicate, palpable meander across lives intersecting with an unordinary woman, the internal dialogues and external details hardly worth noticing that portrait those lives. Read morePublished on 23 Feb. 2013 by Migpa
Julian Barnes always adds an unusal twist to his stories and this is no exception. The arguement is stimulating without being pompous and the book is sadly put to one side.Published on 27 Nov. 2012 by Anthony Farrow
I bought this book for my mum, and couldn't resist flicking through it before giving it to her. I read the first coouple of pages, and literally didn't want to put it down - it... Read morePublished on 8 Feb. 2010 by Ms. J. Sequeira
Like other reviewers, I don't quite get Barnes either. Nor did I quite get this book - the last third caught me completely by surprise. Read morePublished on 30 Oct. 2009 by Mr. David Cheshire