Julian Barnes Love, etc (Jonathan Cape £15.99)
It's the age-old tale. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy and girl get married. Girl meets boy’s best friend. Girl and boy’s best friend fall madly in love. Girl and boy’s best friend get married. And they all live happily ever after. Right?
Sometimes it's not so easy to get closure and with his latest novel Love, etc, Julian Barnes has been drawn to revisit the tangled love triangle of Stuart, Gillian and Oliver from 1991's Talking It Over. An interesting backtrack this, from a writer who apparently once insisted that he would never write a sequel.
’l’m calling it a continuation,’ laughs Barnes. ’To be fair, I’ve never been tempted to write a sequel before. Talking It Over was originally conceived and written as ended, albeit with an open ending, but with no future plan. People just kept asking me what was going to happen next to these characters and eventually I began to get a bit curious myself. I can’t think of any other book I would want to do that with.’
For Barnes, there was also the attraction of the original book's innovative form in which each of
the characters addresses the reader directly. ’That technique arose naturally from the intimate subject matter,’ he says. ’I liked the idea of the characters whispering in the reader's ear, pulling him in different directions and exposing him to such a wide variety of perspectives.’
Love, etc picks up Stuart, Oliver and Gillian’s story where Talking It Over left off. There's a bitter complexity to the characters now which makes the sequel an altogether darker, sadder portrayal of modern love and commitment. Fans won't be disappointed though, as the book is as witty, moving (and occasionally self-satisfied) as the best of the author’s previous novels. Barnes is reluctant to admit to any grand thematic scheme to his books, and claims to have
'People kept asking what happened next and I began to get a bit curious myself'
so far resisted reading any of the growing number of secondary literature and theses devoted to his work. Yet, cross-culturalism is a theme that crops up time and again in Barnes, from his debut Metro/and to his 1996 collection of short stories Cross Channels. Often his characters are defined and influenced by their exposure to a foreign culture, particularly French. ’Seen from this direction, a lot of critics say "Oh, he's a bit continental", whereas on the continent they call me a very English writ- r. In fact the majority of my sales are British, which is a relief because if I was selling spectacularly in Germany and not in the country of my own language then I would be a bit concerned.’ (Allan Radcliffe) 7’ love, etc IS published on Thu 3 Aug.
You Can’t Catch Death (Rebel Inc. £14.99)
Bra uti grin
114 THE LIST ,. ‘3 : 2*
Kerouac, Kesey, Ginsberg, Burroughs. Who's missing from this list of Beat g(.‘ll(-.‘l(il|0ll literary luminaries? Richard Brautigan, of course. The Californian author's surreal, often hilarious novels and poems aie up there With the Beat's best
Yet Brautigan's work is not so Widely read as William Burroughs' Neither is he the counter culture figuiehead of his generation that Allen Ginsberg was. And Brautigan didn’t bang out as many novels as Jack Keiouac. (though you might know In l/Vatern‘e/on Sugar, A Confederate General From Big Sur and the Wildly iiiiaginati\.e Sombrero Fallout). Unlike Ken One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest Kesey, he's no longer around to promote himself (though he did spend some time in Kesey's psyc hiatiic hospitail Brautigan committed suicide l.'l W811 and Rebel Inc are row publishing his daughter
lanthe's memoir alongside his final, pi‘eVIously unpublished novel, An Unfortunate Woman.
lanthe Brautigan's book is no biography As she says: ’He doesn't need to be explained. Everything that was important to him can be found Within the pages of his books.’ Instead, this is a ser:es of recollections, fragments from lanthe and Richards past, the writing of which allowed the daughter to come to terms With her father and his death.
It's very sad, touching and personal. Dennis Hopper endorses it thus ‘You send up sparks like the reflected roaring water did under the bridge to your father's cabin ' To his old Beat pal he says‘ 'You are still the best cantankerous writei I know of my generation I love you brother' Amen to that (Miles Fieldert ’ You (an't Catch Death is out now
* First writes
Debut novelists under the microscope. This issue: Dave Eggers Who he? Dave Eggers was 21 years old when both his parents died of cancer Within five weeks of one another, leaVing him in charge of his little brother Toph (pronounced Tote). He lives in Brooklyn With his Sibling and is editor of McSweeney’s, a quarterly jOUlnal and website. Eggers doesn't look good in red,
His debut It’s called A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius and tells the above tale over 375 pages of highly innovative structure and content. The book has been a permanent fixture in the New York Times top ten bestseller list since publication in February despite the author himself panning the book in Spin
Basically Basically, it’s abOut being an orphan and parent simultaneously, loss and growth, and a deconstruction of the memOir genre,
Grand claims corner Fellow writer's fell over themselves praising Eggers to high heaven on the book’s US publication. In an open letter to the author, DaVid Foster Wallace enthused: ’I report here that l was almost as moved by your Willingness to risk sentimentality as l was impressed by the high-Wire skill With which you avoided it. It's a merciless book.’ On the back cover blurb, Rick Moody states: 'This book does not need a blurb.’ In the c0urse of all this glorifying, Eggers has been compared to Kierkegaard, Joyce, Burroughs and Pavarotti.
First paragraph test 'There is nO overwhelming need to read the preface. Really It eXists mostly for the author, and those who, after finishing the rest of the book, have for some reason found themselves stuck With noth1ng else to read. If you have already read the preface, and Wish you had not, we apologize. We should have told yOu sooner.’
The book’s dedication ‘This was uncalled for" (Brian Donaldsoni
A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius is published by Picador on Fri 27 lu/ priced [9. 99.
A , HEARTBREAKING