Pulse

From a writer who’s on a roll, fourteen stories that range freely through the historical past and contemporary life, touching on longing and love, loss and friendship, and a great many passions in between. It’s the strongest collection yet from Julian Barnes.

From an imperial capital in the eighteenth century to Garibaldi’s adventures in the nineteenth, from the vineyards of Italy to the English seaside in our time, Julian Barnes finds the “stages, transitions, arguments” that define us. A newly divorced real estate agent can’t resist invading his reticent girlfriend’s privacy, but the information he finds reveals only his callously shallow curiosity. A couple comes together through an illicit cigarette and a song shared over the din of a Chinese restaurant. A widower revisiting the Scottish island he’d treasured with his wife learns how difficult it is to purge oneself of grief. And throughout, friends gather regularly at dinner parties and perfect the art of cerebral, sometimes bawdy banter about the world passing before them. Whether domestic or extraordinary, each story pulses with the resonance, spark and poignant humor for which Barnes is justly heralded.

Reviews

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A New York Times Editors’ Choice
 
“One of our most consistently deft short-form stylists…. Quietly remarkable, elegant.”
Daily Telegraph
 
“Barnes can do more in a single story than many lesser writers can accomplish in a whole novel.”
Toronto Star
 
“Among the most adventurous writers–in style, versatility and narrative
structure.”
The New York Times Book Review
 
“A moving and truth-telling work of fiction.”
The Boston Globe
 
“Barnes’s erudition is in full display…. Combines mordant humour, perspicacity and invigoratingly crisp writing.”
The Independent
 
“[A] perfectly weighted collection… . Affecting.”
—The Observer
 
“Julian Barnes is one of those confident literary decathletes, proficient at old-fashioned storytelling, dialogue-driven portraiture, postmodern collage, and political allegory and farce. He’s a true literary professional whose most compelling work showcases his musical prose, his ear for the chattering class’s chatter (Talking It Over), his ability to create narratives with both surface brio and finely calibrated philosophical subtexts (Flaubert’s Parrot, The Porcupine).”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times