Book Review: The Lemon Table – Julian Barnes


Another fine selection of short stories from Julian Barnes summed up in an introduction to the book:

“From the salon where an old man measures out his life in haircuts, to the concert hall where a music lover carries out an obsessive campaign against those who cough during performances; from the woman reading elaborate recipes to her sick husband as a substitute for sex, to the woman ‘incarcerated’ in an old people’s home beginning a correspondence with an author that enriches both their lives –all Barnes’ characters, in their different ways, square up to death and rage against the dying light.”

The Lemon Table, Julian Barnes
Here’s one of my favourites:
Vigilance”, a tale about a concert goer who becomes obsessed with the coughers, snufflers and sneezers while an orchestra is playing and devises a number of strategies to “deal with them”. Offering a cough sweet is at the mild end of the strategic spectrum whilst tripping them up at the top of a flight of stairs during the interval is more extreme … but more fun. Lots of other funny strategies in between.
The author has a way of writing these stories in such a way that you believe the characters are real and known to him. In some cases they probably are, but they are human stories as much as tales about an event or an incident.
Typical of this is “Knowing French” which is nothing to do with France or the language, but a series of letters written to Barnes by an 81 years old woman, Sylvia Winstanley, from her Old People’s Home she refers to as The Old Folkery. It’s sad but funny as she refers to her “inmates” as The Deaf and the Dead and relates various incidents such as the disappearing Creme Eggs, and her friendship with Daphne Charteris supposedly one of the few women trained to fly a Lancaster Bomber in WWII! 
Much food for thought in every one of them, especially if you’re 50+ years old and can spot the recurring theme. No spoilers!
The Lemon Table, Julian Barnes

Advertisements


Categories: Reviews

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. Sounds like a good read!!

    Like

  2. Off topic but has your WP dashboard taken on some odd new colours?

    Like

  3. There is a nice story from a care home in Grimsby called The Grange. A year or two ago they ordered some Christmas cards for residents to send. When they arrived there was a misprint – Happy Christmas From The Grave’!

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Chips Off the Old Block

A blog devoted to genealogical wanderings - dedicated to family near and far, through distance and time

Westernlady's Weblog

My family history and other life moments

GenTraveling

Collecting stories from family historians who are climbing their family trees and planning trips to where their ancestors actually lived!

Life is Grace

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver)

One Anne and Her Dog

A story about a family

%d bloggers like this: