Thursday, April 05, 2018

The sense of an ending (2)

The television guide showed an interesting film a few days ago, so I decided to record it. When I got around to watching it, something told me just before it began that it was a dramatisation of a novel I once read and wrote about: The sense of an ending, by Julian Barnes.

I quite enjoyed the film, although I was sure that it didn't match my memory of the book. I looked for it on the Kindle in order to refresh my memory, but the book was no more, deleted in the great Kindle disaster of December 2016. It took a few days but eventually I found another copy of the book, and today I read it all the way through.

Although the film was somewhat faithful to its source material, it also added invented material - all the business about the daughter of the protagonist (Tony) being a pregnant lesbian is new. I imagine that this was added to make Tony seem more like a human being. I thought that something had been left out - when Tony spends a weekend at his girlfriend's parents' house - but it turns out that I must have mixed up this story with another, as the incident which I thought took place did not, neither in the book nor in the film.

The film had a nice shot of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, in Bristol, which is without doubt an iconic image from my childhood. The book also mentions going to see the Severn Bore, but that didn't make the film; I saw this a few times, once with my wife.

I want to end with the same words which I wrote six years ago: It's not as if anything specific which happened in the book happened to me in real life (in fact, I would be hard pressed to find anything which happened in the book that also happened to me); it's just that the opening half of the book is, (quoting the Guardian) [a]memoir of "book-hungry, sex-hungry" sixth form days, and the painful failure of his first relationship at university, with the spiky, enigmatic Veronica. It's a lightly sketched portrait of awkwardness and repression. This is something which makes a great deal of sense to me and seems very familiar. I too look back on my formative years from a 30-40 year distance.

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