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In these fourteen brilliant stories, the Man Booker Prize-winning author of A Sense of an Ending examines longing and loss, friendship and love, the historical past and contemporary life—all with his trademark wit and sharply observant eye. A newly divorced man invades his reticent girlfriend's privacy, only to discover that the information he finds reveals his own callously shallow curiosity. A couple comes together through an illicit cigarette and a song shared over the din of a Chinese restaurant. A widower revisiting the Scottish island he treasured with his wife learns how difficult it is to overcome grief. And scattered throughout, a group of friends gather regularly at dinner parties, perfecting the art of cerebral, sometimes bawdy banter. Each story in this extraordinary collection pulses with the resonance, spark, and poignant humor for which Barnes is justly heralded.
“Vibrant. . . . Full of life and voice. . . . As Barnes fans know, love itself is a lifeline for this playful, erudite writer.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A collection that shows a contemporary master working at the height of his ability. . . . Pulse sneaks up on you, and by the end, you cannot help but be moved.” —The Oregonian
“[Barnes is 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
“Outrageously witty and suave. . . . Wry, urbane.” —The Washington Post
“Barnes is among the most adventurous writers—in style, versatility and narrative structure—of his Amis-McEwan-Hitchens generation.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A moving and truth-telling work of fiction.” —The Boston Globe
“Of our leading novelists, Julian Barnes has one of the richest historical imaginations. . . . His stories tend to be quietly observational, rather traditional in manner, and 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.” —The Los Angeles Times
“Full of the sidelong wit and intelligence that make the writer one of our most consistently deft short-form stylists. . . . [A] quietly remarkable, elegant book.” —The Telegraph (London)
“A book that is almost entirely masterly. . . . These stories are acutely observational. They neither satirize the speakers, nor celebrate them. They make art out of the quotidian details of modern conversation—and they are very funny.” —The Denver Post
“A collection of stories that engages the reader’s intellect and heart, the best of fiction’s traditional concerns.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“In Pulse, Julian Barnes is as perceptive and intelligent as in any other of his dazzling novels and nonfiction, and, it must be said, fully as serious. . . . The reader appreciates Barnes’ unflinching realism and his determination to boil life down to its essence, however disconcerting that process may be.” —Providence Journal
“Sharply elegant, piercing investigations of relationships.” —Vogue
“Barnes is a master at establishing the intimacies of mortality in this kind of relationship, forever testing the limits to which our faith in human connection might stretch.” —The Observer (London)