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Nothing to Be Frightened Of Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 2, 2008
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this virtuosic memoir, Barnes (Arthur & George) makes little mention of his personal or professional life, allowing his audience very limited ingress into his philosophical musings on mortality. But like Alice tumbling through the rabbit hole, readers will find themselves granted access to an unexpectedly large world, populated with Barnes's daily companions and his chosen ancestors (most of them dead, and quite a few of them French, like Jules Renard, Flaubert, Zola). This is not 'my autobiography,' Barnes emphasizes in this hilariously unsentimental portrait of his family and childhood. Part of what I'm doing—which may seem unnecessary—is trying to work out how dead they are. And in this exploration of what remains, the author sifts through unreliable memory to summon up how his ancestors—real and assumed—contemplated death and grappled with the perils and pleasures of pit-gazing. If Barnes's self-professed amateur philosophical rambling feels occasionally self-indulgent, his vivid description delights. (Sept.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Most critics strongly recommended Julian Barnes's reflections on mortality. However, perhaps reluctant to embrace his disbelief, they seemed more impressed by his descriptive skill in depicting his family—in particular, his emotionally remote brother—even though a few critics cited the author himself as emotionally closed in his personal writing. Reviewers also praised the scope of Barnes's literary erudition more than any actual insight into the subject of death. A few reviewers felt that this dance around the subject makes Nothing to Be Frightened Of weaker than Barnes's other books. But most embraced the book's novelistic ambiguity, enjoying the story even if the author himself does not know how it will end.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC
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Effortlessly erudite, yet very accessible, he draws in material from across the universe of thinking and combines it with personal anecdote. This includes recurring references to his brother the philosopher - humorous tales from their childhood and their relationships with their parents.
I am still frightened of death but know I am not alone.
If you have woken in fright at the realisation that yes you too must die (best described by the French as reveil mortel) then this book will let you think deeply about it, yet retain your sense of humour.