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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Ex-library book. Book shows minimal signs of use around the edges and covers. No torn or ripped pages. Contains no writing, underlining and/or highlighting. Dust jacket is intact and in good condition.
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Pulse: Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 3, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Companionship—the search for, the basking in, and the loss of—binds Barnes's first-rate collection of short stories, his first since 2004's The Lemon Table. In a lesser author's hands, a single story composed almost entirely of dialogue—let alone four of them—would collapse under the pressure of carrying off such a task and still moving along the narrative. But Barnes proves himself an erudite fly on the wall in his "At Phil and Joanna's" series, which involves the postdinner conversations of a group of London friends discussing everything from the 2008 election to marmalade, sex, and testicle operations—and each character comes alive despite the slightest hints of description and exposition. Vernon in "East Wind," on the other hand, takes the notion of observing a step too far during an awkward courtship with a German waitress in a seaside town. Though their circumstances couldn't be more different, the characters in "Sleeping with John Updike," "Gardeners' World," and "Harmony" all find themselves at one time or another content in the knowledge of the space they share with a friend, spouse or healer, yet it is when this companionship is just out of reach, as in the dryly witty "Trespass," or snuffed out, as in the poignant title story, that Barnes shines brightest. (May)
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Review

“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
 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First United States Edition edition (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307595269
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307595263
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,088,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It is a book of stories, fourteen in all, every one of them written with the gentle charm that has become the mark of Julian Barnes. He exhibits serenity, sadness, and joy all with a wry British, or should I say, Barnes-like humour. He created amusement and fun in short statements: "Riding a hobby horse to death is flogging a dead metaphor." (At Phil & Joanna's 2: Marmalade). A theme of hypocrisy and sincerity appears as the underlying current in each of the stories, culminating in the poignant story about a man's (Barnes?) parents in the last story, "Pulse" that Barnes gave to the title of the book. It is a book about looking back to appreciate what little might be left in the future.
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Format: Hardcover
Pulse, by Julian Barnes, is a collection of 14 short stories about "longing and loss, [and] friendship and love". Barnes is a quintessential British writer who has been short-listed for the Man Booker prize three times.

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).
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this collection of stories purely on the recommendation of the bookseller I frequent. I was unfamiliar with the author Julian Barnes but I have become a fan. These stories all deal with the topics of love, loss, and longing and provide a 'fly on the wall' view on a variety of topics. Among my favorites was "SLEEPING WITH JOHN UPDIKE" where a couple of female writers discuss their careers which appear to be fairly lackluster.
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Julian Barnes won the Man Booker for his great book, "The Sense of an Ending," but this collection of different stories is magnificent. One story, in particular, in which the narrator overhears two women discussing the variance in the taste of semen, depending on food eaten, is a laugh-out-loud event!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mr. Barnes often writes beautiful, insightful, gently gripping, skillful fiction and essays. And he can write the most boring, superficial dibble without a hint of skillfulness. This book contains a bit of both. Some of these stories read as if they were copied word for word from recordings at dinner parties where guest thought themselves to be every so clever; but are really just being boring and self-impressed, braggarts. (Are these stories intended as a slice of life? If so, it would be nice if the author gave life, form, substance and beauty.) Then you have the first story of this collection, and a middle story about a deft and dumb portrait painter and a few others where Mr. Barnes is at his finest in technique, character development, and the quiet spark of touching the human. If he were less of a great writer I would not care that many of these stories are not worth the digital ink. However, when a great writer dribbles on, it is more disappointing then when an average writer dribbles on. Maybe he lacks a good editor who can tell him what to publish and what to keep locked away in a drawer. Never-the-less the great stories in this edition are well worth the price of admission.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very British writer talking about life in England that begins in the late fifties and early sixties. He weaves a very complicated tale and when you arrive at the end you may not be sure of what happened. At least I wasn't. My book club group agreed and in our discussion we all seemed to have had a different impression of what happened and who the characters were. The books is very readable and hard to put down. Don't miss this one.
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