Book of the Month II: ‘Levels of Life’ by Julian Barnes

Posted: September 25, 2013 in Books of the Month, Writing Talk

My second Book of the Month is Julian Barnes startling and incredibly moving book, Levels of Life. You can read my full review of the text here, on the New York Journal of Books website:

And here’s a brief excerpt:

“Levels of Life is heartfelt and raw . . . angry . . . witty . . . always memorable.”

“You put together two people who have not been put together before; and sometimes the world is changed, sometimes not. They may crash and burn, or burn and crash. But sometimes, something new is made, and then the world is changed. Together, in that first exaltation, that first roaring sense of uplift, they are greater than their two separate selves. Together, they see further, and they see more clearly.”

Levels of Life is a poignant, extended metaphor of a “story,” by the “uxorious” Julian Barnes, winner of the 2011 Booker Prize for his novel The Sense of an Ending.

Set in three, distinct acts, which at first seem wholly separate—the first act is a historical piece regarding the “balloonatics,” “the new Argonauts,” who engaged in hot air ballooning in 19th century Europe; the second homes in on a (doomed) romance between one of the principal “balloonatics” and the actress Sarah Bernardt; and the third is a moving elegy to Barnes’ wife, the literary agent Pat Kavanagh, who died in 2008—but which together eventually come to form a “nice pattern” of a narrative.

Read more of my reviews for the New York Journal of Books here:

Screenshot Barnes Review



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