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Pulse: Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 3, 2011
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Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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From Publishers Weekly
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“Marvelously inventive . . . Pulse sneaks up on you, and by the end, you cannot help but be moved. These are stories that illuminate characters not through dramatic epiphanies but real, small turns in the road and moments of change. [Barnes’s] prose is rich without being showy; he has a precision and economy of language that at times recalls William Trevor. Above all, Pulse shows a contemporary master working at the height of his ability.” —Jill Owens, The Oregonian
“Of our leading novelists, Julian Barnes has one of the richest historical imaginations . . . His main business here is the present, particularly that portion of it that includes bright, relentlessly articulate people encountering the first pangs of aging and its discontents . . . His characters are never tragic. They are inhabitants of a gray-scale world, plugging on through life chastened by the experiences Barnes recounts, but not devastated by them. That may be why we identify with them so easily, so instructively.” —Richard Schickel, Los Angeles Times
“Sharply elegant, piercing investigations of relationships.” —Megan O’Grady, Vogue
“Filled with gems . . . beautiful, elegiac tales about how marriages endure or change over time . . . A testament to Mr. Barnes’s full panoply of talents . . . [He’s a] confident literary decathlete, proficient at old-fashioned storytelling, dialogue-driven portraiture, postmodern collage, political allegory and farce, [and the] ability to create narratives with both surface brio and finely calibrated philosophical subtexts.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Graceful . . . Keenly funny . . . Barnes’ tales are shrewd, piquant, and moving [and] his gift for deft, acerbic dialogue is finely honed.” —Donna Seaman, Booklist
“Companionship—the search for, the basking in, and the loss of—binds Barnes’s first-rate collection . . . Dryly witty [and] poignant.” —Publishers Weekly, starred
“Elegance and versatility—familiar Barnes strengths [that] define this latest story collection . . . . Another impressive addition to an already impressive oeuvre.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred
Top Customer Reviews
This collection of short stories starts with a terrific opener, "East Wind", in which an Englishman courts a Eastern European waitress and tries to uncover the root of her unusual behavior. Suddenly, the Englishman and the reader are jarred with the waitress's story. Four of the stories, entitled "At Phil and Joanna's", form a single narrative in parts. It is essentially a drunken conversation among four friends ranging from sex to politics (very left wing) to loss. One story, "Sleeping with John Updike" is a funny (and sad) story about the relationship between two female writers who did not quite make it to the top of the literary world. Two of the stories are set a few centuries ago. A few of the stories read more like essays than short stories.
Barnes captures conversation beautifully. For example, the "At Phil and Joanna's" cycle of stories is just a long conversation between four characters. There are few indications of who is actually speaking but it feels very real. While the writing was magnificent, the point of that cycle of stories was lost on me.
Some of the stories were simply amazing. Others, such as Phil and Joanna's and a couple of the essays, were well written but didn't capture me. This is not Barnes' strongest book. If you want to give him a try, I would start with one of his Man Booker finalists: Flaubert's Parrot, England, England or Arthur & George (a fictional story about Sherlock Holmes' creator).
Barnes appeal from my perspective is that he parses his words carefully while managing to convey a lot. He is revealing in respect to his characters and can conversely express humor as well as pathos in the same paragraph. While at times he does seem more of an essayist than a short story writer, he may very well be a modern day Jonathan Swift.
I found this collecton so interesting and enjoyable that I plan to read more of Barnes' stories.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very well written thought provoking book. I always enjoy reading Julian Barnes. His subjects are personal and viewed from different angles.Published 1 day ago by Jewels36
All over the map in terms of subject matter, but each beautifully crafted with moments that stay with the reader. Read morePublished on April 15, 2014 by Sharalee M. Field
Barnes is a master of the English language. Each of these stories has at least one image that will move you at your core.Published on November 22, 2013 by Donald Gillman
Serene, down-to-earth, stripped of overt literary references yet so full of wit, observation and food for thought. Great book to begin reading Barnes with.Published on April 12, 2013 by Nuri K
I have two books of Barnes that I haven't read, and I should have read this one earlier, it's serene and stripped-down yet at times very intelligent and thought-provoking. Read morePublished on April 12, 2013 by Nuri K
I liked it very much. I've read 3 Julian Barnes' books and this didn't disappoint me. On the contrary, I enjoyed its readingPublished on October 23, 2012 by Heidy Leiva Henriquez
Fans of short stories will find mastery of dialogue in the collection from Julian Barnes titled, Pulse. Some of the stories are presented entirely in dialogue. Read morePublished on July 16, 2012 by Stephen T. Hopkins