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David Joy Presents His Debut Novel at City Lights Bookstore

March 6, 2015 from 6:30pm to 8pm
Webster author, David Joy will present his new novel on Friday, March 6th at 6:30 p.m. at City Lights Bookstore.  Where All Light Tends to Go, a staff pick of both Chris and Eon, is set in Jackson County and tells the story of Jacob McNeely, a young man who is in a fight against his fate. “Expertly balancing beauty and brutality, David has written a novel that stays with the reader long after the final page has been read.  Where All Light Tends to Go, though very much an Appalachian tale, is…See More
Thursday
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Wednesday
Caralyn Davis posted a blog post

Color Blind, My First Eco-Fiction, Published & Waiting to Be Read

My short story "Color Blind" is now up at Eclectica Magazine. It's got animal extinctions, Sekhmet, Santa Claus, golden Panamanian frogs, real science, fake science, and lots of cats -- in a very economical, easy-reading 1,700 words.See More
Jan 15
Sarah Harden posted an event

Rose Senehi, Speaker for CMLC's January Speaker Series at Henderson County Main Branch Library in the Kaplan Auditorium.

January 14, 2015 from 6pm to 7:30pm
Join Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) Wednesday, January 14th for a presentation from Rose Senehi, esteemed Chimney Rock author of novels Dancing on Rocks, Render Unto the Valley, and many more. She will read passages from her books while elaborating on her local inspirations. At the end of her readings, Senehi will conduct a Q&A session and book signing.Many of Senehi’s novels have woven together several of CMLC’s regional land conservation accomplishments. In the Shadows of…See More
Jan 12
Rodney Page commented on Rob Neufeld's group Promoting Writers
"Happy to join the group...Relatively new to North Carolina. Have published a thriller, Powers Not Delegated, and my second book, The Xerces Factor launches in April 2015. see more at my website: www.rodneypagebooks.com"
Jan 12
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Jan 12
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Jan 10
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Jan 10
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
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Gregg Jones updated their profile
Jan 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

1962, Tunnel Road--an era remembered

We remember Tunnel Road and 1960by Rob Neufeld             The “Buck Burger”—“made with two pure beef patties,” tomato, lettuce, cheese, and a dill chip, “served with Buck’s own special dressing on a toasted bun.”             That was something that you could get at Buck’s Drive-In on Tunnel Road, from 1946 to 1972, when…See More
Jan 2
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Dec 27, 2014
Dave Turner shared their blog post on Facebook
Dec 26, 2014
Dave Turner posted a blog post

Billy Ray's Chevrolet and Other Writings and Photographs from a Southern Appalachian Valley

Thought of this little piece from my eBook today:Brittle sticks and dry leaves on the ground crunch beneath my feet.The day is crisp and cold.The sky is white and the sunlight is dreamlike, filtered by thin clouds and casting a surreal glow.A sharp north wind gusts and swishes through bare branches and across frozen ground powdered with new snow.Ancient mountains rise with leafless trees revealing the tops of ridges you can’t see in summer, just as they did during the winters of my…See More
Dec 26, 2014
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Dec 23, 2014

Great novel plays with a man’s conscience and memory

by Rob  Neufeld

 

            The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes is a different kind of mystery—not the whodunit variety, which has no real sense of closure, except in a legal sense; or in the relief of having a threat extinguished.

            The mystery in this novel has to do with a caring, self-centered person’s need to resolve, forty years after the fact, his part in a relationship with a puzzling girlfriend and a friend’s suicide.

            “You just don’t get it, do you?” Veronica, the girlfriend, tells the narrator, Tony Webster, on several occasions.

            The Sense of the Ending, is the subject of Book Discussion X at Accent on Books, 7 p.m., Thurs., Mar. 14.

 

Great storytelling

 

            Barnes’ novel has comedy, great dialogue, plot surprises, and anecdotes—but, right from the start, it’s Tony’s philosophical seriousness that does the main carrying job.

            The first paragraph is in some ways not typical of the book.  “I remember in no particular order,” the narrator prefaces, launching into a list of six seemingly unrelated images, including one graphic one.

            He then talks about the way time has nothing to with a clock, and he eases into his school days at an English private school.  Tony and his sardonic pals were fake smart, and wanted to lead lives like the ones in great literature.  Enter, Adrian, un-flippant and brilliant, and a magnet of interest like Sophie to Stingo in William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice.

            When Old Joe Hunt, history teacher, asks his class, “What is history?”, Adrian responds, it is “the certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.” 

            “Would you care to give an example?” the teacher says.

            “Robson’s suicide, sir.” The school had just received news about a student whom the boys barely knew, and Adrian wanted to show that even events not obscured by centuries were beyond mysterious.  

 

Memories float up

 

            On page 31, one of the random impressions noted in the novel’s first paragraph—“steam rising from a wet sink as a hot frying pan is laughingly tossed into it”—comes to the surface and fleshes out.

            Tony has graduated from secondary school and found his first serious girlfriend, Veronica.  Veronica is enigmatic, manipulative, or troubled—it’s hard to tell.  Tony visits her family for the first time, and finds them snobbishly mocking, except for Veronica’s mother, Mrs. Ford.

            One morning, after Veronica, her father, and her brother take off on an outing, letting Tony sleep in, he is treated to breakfast by Mrs. Ford, whom the brother refers to as “the mother.”  Tony notices a couple of seemingly insignificant gestures—including her tossing of the frying pan.  Mrs. Ford says—memorably, as it turns out—“Don’t let Veronica get away with too much.” 

            As a reader, I get great pleasure from the surfacing of previously unexplained references.  We know more will follow.  And it has so much to do with the big story.  Isn’t it odd, we think, how a tiny moment in our past can attain much bigger dramatic status than big events?

            Tony and Veronica break up, and she, he learns in a letter, hooks up with Adrian.  He writes Adrian a letter, advising him “to be prudent, because in my opinion Veronica has suffered damage a long way back.”

            Later on in the novel, he—and we—get another account of that warning letter, and it is a shock.  Memory is selective, it seems. For  the moment, Tony goes into a meditation about the damage that “we all suffer.”

            He’s groping. 

            One more revelation.  It’s something of a spoiler, but the book’s flyleaf also gives it away.  Adrian commits suicide, and Tony inherits from Mrs. Ford 500 pounds and Adrian’s diary.  This is a mystery that must be explained.

            We’re on page 69, and at the beginning of part two of the novel.

 

Obsession

 

            The second, and larger, part of The Sense of an Ending, involves Tony as a 60-year-old.  The poor guy is obsessed with his past.

            He consults his ex-wife, Margaret.  (He had married and divorced a woman who is Veronica’s opposite—she has a low opinion of mysteriousness.)

            Margaret suggests he take the money from Mrs. Ford and take Margaret on a holiday. 

            “If she’d wanted me to spend the money on a holiday for two,” Tony muses about his straightforward ex, “she’d have said so.  Yes, I realize that’s exactly what she did say, but…”

            The painfulness of Tony’s predicament—his struggle and dimly dawning awareness of his lack of a great life (like John Marcher in Henry James’ story, “The Beast in the Jungle”)—contains a lot of humor, and Barnes is a virtuoso in mining that for pace and poignancy.

            At one point, Veronica takes him on a wild drive to give him a clue about what’s what, and Tony, thinking he has the sane person’s upper hand, irritates her with a barrage of banalities.

            “This is a very interesting part of town,” he says.

            “There are a lot of fat people around nowadays,” he says.

            Let me tell you about the novel’s ending.   This is not in the least a give-away because Barnes leaves you with Tony saying he’s finally figured things out, but he doesn’t reveal what.  Barnes tells you what memories Tony is targeting, but not their explanations.

            Isn’t that the mark of a great book?  You want to keep thinking about it after you’ve put it down.

 

THE BOOK

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (Knopf, 2011, 169 pages, $23.95; Vintage trade paper, 2012, $14.95).  The novel was short-listed for the 2011 Man Booker Prize.

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