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Comment: Book is in good condition. Pages are clean with no markings or highlighting within. Cover may have moderate wear and tear with possible creases. Ships directly from Amazon!
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Metroland Paperback – October 27, 1992

4.1 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Sixteen-year-old suburbanite Chris Lloyd and his mate Toni spend their free time wishing they were French, making up stories about strangers, and pretending to be flâneurs. When they grow up they'd like to be "artists-in-residence at a nudist colony." If youthful voyeurism figures heavily in their everyday lives, so, too, do the pleasures of analogy, metaphor, and deliberate misprision. Sauntering into one store that dares to call itself MAN SHOP, Toni demands: "One man and two small boys, please."

Julian Barnes could probably fill several books with these boys' clever misadventures, but in his first novel he attempts something more daring--the curve from youthful scorn to adult contentment. In 1968, when Chris goes off to Paris, he misses the May événements but manages, more importantly, to fall in love and learn the pleasures of openness: "The key to Annick's candour was that there was no key. It was like the atom bomb: the secret is that there is no secret." The final section finds Chris back in suburbia, married, with children and a mortgage, and slowly accepting the surprise that happiness isn't boring. "It's certainly ironic to be back in Metroland. As a boy, what would I have called it: le syphilis de l'âme, or something like that, I dare say. But isn't part of growing up being able to ride irony without being thrown?" Far from renouncing the joys of language, this novel wittily celebrates honest communication. --Kerry Fried

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"Barnes writes like a dream."  --Village Voice Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (October 27, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679736085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679736080
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #949,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Metroland is the sort of book that, frankly, most people will not like (or even finish). However, those who do like the book will enjoy it a great deal. The theme is one that has been explored by almost every male author of note: A young man is attempting to sort out his own values while asking himself if he is living his life properly. This is, of course, a serious topic. Because of the gravity of the subject, many writers seem to cave in to the temptation to go overboard and the resulting work becomes hopelessly melodramatic. Julian Barnes, however, has avoided the cliches of this sub-genre by mocking the main character's periodic self-absorbtion. The result is a protagonist that the reader can truly care about and (ultimately) admire. Metroland's dialog is witty, and the narrative is very clever. The chapter dealing with Chris's attempts to impress his new French girlfriend are so realistic that they must be autobiographical. Metroland would be best enjoyed in small bites, a chapter or two at a time at the end of the day. You might hate this book, and I honestly wouldn't blame you, but I loved it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An interesting first novel, this does an excellent job of switching from the teen point of view to that of the settled adult later. It examines many key turning points in life, and also holds well to its chronological setting, giving clear pictures of times and places.
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Format: Paperback
Metroland is undoubtedly on my top 10 list for life. The story is, above all else, touchingly honest. Vivid pictures are painted with the subtlest of language. The writing gives keen insight into the head of a young boy and his passage into adulthood.

There is nothing more satisfying than when you read a book that is written as if it could have come from your own head...

The absurdity and comedy of some of the conversations will make you laugh as you think about times in your own life when things don't have to be mature and sensical - you just say them, and magically, everyone understands.

The scenes in the museum where the two main characters are observing peoples' minute reactions to artwork is my absolute favorite. The passage describing how art is the most important thing in life, and how people, simply by viewing art, are in some way improved, is in my wallet and I make sure to show it to everyone I know.

I have read Talking It Over, also by Barnes, and enjoyed it, but Metroland stands alone because it is so completely and honestly genuine.

kidTiger
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Format: Paperback
Metroland is a very intimate and enchanting novel written in the first person. The reader is drawn into Chris, the narrator's, world at the very outset and from that point on, we are taken on a journey through life, time and age.
We start out in the mind of a 16 year old boy, feeling all his hopes and ideals alongside him, sharing his philosophies and questions with his closest friends in a haven of teenage, mutual, intellectual exchange.
Then comes Paris, May '68. Chris has matured. We sense that he has begun to live, and has become increasingly uncertain of how the realities of life fit in with his childhood ideals.
As the work draw slowly to a close the narrator is experiencing "real" life to the full; the marriage, the mortgage and the child, and yet the need to question seems to have been appeased. We now sense his readiness to live life day by day, without too much forward-thinking. With age, he no longer really asks why things happen, he merely accepts.
The ageing process we feel in the novel is fascinating, in particular when we consider the relationship between the two childhood "best friends", Chris and Toni. As children they seem to parralel so closely, with similar beliefs and concerns, yet as time passes their priorities and goals move in conflicting directions. Chris adapted his ideals to reality. Toni, on the other hand, tried to live by his childhood ideals as an adult, torturing himself in the process in the hopes of being true to his past self and his broken dreams.
Some of us mature and develop and some are children forever ....who is happier?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I must admit I struggled through this book thoroughly disliking the main character and his old friend and couldn't figure out where the story was going. However the final chapter (almost an epilogue) made the read worthwhile and in fact after I read it once, I retread it slowly and savored each word and sentiment
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Format: Paperback
I've recently read, and posted reviews of two other Julian Barnes' novels, "The Sense of an Ending" and "A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters," both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. "Metroland" reflects some of the same themes: obnoxiousness of young schoolboys who have read a few important books but not nearly enough, growing up, love, and memory. This being my third book by Barnes, I'm starting to get a feel for his authorial panache, and I can't help being charmed by it. You get the sense that he's always writing with a gentle smirk on his face, not unlike the one he always has on display on the back covers of his books.

The story follows the narrator Chris and his best friend from school, Toni, as they grow up in the suburbs of London (the "Metroland" of the title). They both hate ordinary people, whom they contemptuously go around calling "bourgeois." They profess to live for art and ideas, when really it's just a kind of self-important high-mindedness they're putting on. Part II sees Chris moving to Paris and growing a bit distant from Toni. While there, he meets and falls in love with a French woman named Annick and befriends three fellow art-lovers, one of them a woman named Marion, on a visit to the Musee Gustave Moreau. One day, he mentions to Annick rather heavy-handedly that he met Marion (with whom he has done nothing other than casually flirt), but Annick gets upset, leaves him, and is never seen again.

And here's where Barnes' wonderful infatuation with irony comes to a head: he falls in love with Marion, has a child with her, takes on a mortgage and respectable job that he actually enjoys, and turns into one of those hideous bourgeois that he hated as a boy.
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