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Infinite Joe

I like challenging books that make you think, and leave you happy that you did. Typically, I find character driven literary fiction the most satisfying, although I in no way think of myself as a serious literary critic.

Currently reading

Unaccustomed Earth
Jhumpa Lahiri
Progress: 282/333 pages

Levels of Life

Levels of Life - Julian Barnes This one, which is the first I've read by Barnes, caught me off guard.

The first part involves hot air ballooning in the mid to late 1800's. I figured this was fictional, and somewhat bland, but I found out later that it was mostly a historical account.

The second part involves a fictionalized love affair between two of the nonfictional characters. The love affair ends rather abruptly, leading to the author's assertion that "every love story is a potential grief story". Although better than the first section, I was a little confused as to where this was going. The writing, however, I could tell was superb.

The final part is a deeply personal recounting of the author's grief after the death of his wife. Again, the writing was exceptional, and the content was honest and real, but I wondered how this all fit together.

And then I started to make the small connections. And then the book started getting under my skin. In a good way. I couldn't stop reflecting on the content and its meaning. This is what a good book does.

I'll be reading more of Barnes for sure.

(Also, he reminded me a little of McEwan. British, atheist, great writer. But I've only read one of Barnes' books so far, so I don't want to get ahead of myself with comparisons.)