Nothing to be Frightened of

Julian Barnes

Nothing to be Frightened of

I don't believe in God, but I miss Him.' Julian Barnes' new book is, among many things, a family memoir, an exchange with his brother (a philosopher), a meditation on mortality and the fear of death, a celebration of art, an argument with and about God, and a homage to the French writer Jules Renard. 3.8 out of 5 based on 12 reviews
Nothing to be Frightened of

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Society, Politics & Philosophy, Biography
Format Hardback
Pages 250
RRP £18.99
Date of Publication March 2008
ISBN 978-0224085236
Publisher Jonathan Cape
 

I don't believe in God, but I miss Him.' Julian Barnes' new book is, among many things, a family memoir, an exchange with his brother (a philosopher), a meditation on mortality and the fear of death, a celebration of art, an argument with and about God, and a homage to the French writer Jules Renard.

John Crace's Digested Read — The Guardian

Reviews

The New Statesman

Lucy Beresford

Barnes dissects with tremendous verve and insight this awesome inevitability of death and its impact on the human psyche. He also tears at your heart: the brief hospital scene of Albert trying to coax his beautiful Dulcie out of a coma is eye-smartingly poignant and worth (for cathartic moments that live beyond one's reading of the book) the price of admission alone.

06/03/2008

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The New York Times

Garrison Keillor

...a deep seismic tremor of a book that keeps rumbling and grumbling in the mind for weeks thereafter … what gives this book life and keeps the reader happily churning forward is his affection for the people who wander in and out

03/10/2008

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The Financial Times

Penelope Lively

...it is entertaining, intriguing, absorbing and so expansive that I was startled, on finishing, to note its brevity … It took me hours to write this review because each reference to my notes set me off re-reading; that is a reviewer's ultimate accolade.

01/03/2008

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The Independent on Sunday

AC Grayling

In the end, Barnes's agonising over death wears the reader out. It seems to miss the surely obvious point that it is a futile distraction from what really matters ... All that said, the relentlessness of the death-theme should not detract from the lovely prose, the agreeable humour and the delightful literary and artistic allusion that bubble like good champagne on most pages.

09/03/2008

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The Literary Review

Cressida Connolly

Julian Barnes is a delightful companion and much of the book (its informal tone included) is like an extended and very interesting conversation … When he writes about his parents he is at his best, a master of the telling detail.

01/03/2008

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The Sunday Telegraph

Lynn Barber

There is certainly nothing to be frightened of in this book - an elegant, ludic, urbane meditation on death, which manages to dance nimbly round its subject without ever engaging it in mortal combat.

06/03/2008

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The Times

Jane Shilling

...an extremely bookish account of mortality: intricate and elegantly structured beneath its anecdotal surface ... It may also strike female readers as a peculiarly male account of timor mortis.

07/03/2008

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The Sunday Times

John Carey

The more he goes on, the more you feel he would make rather a good priest — a bit austere perhaps, but that would add to his gravitas, and the church could certainly do with his brains.

02/03/2008

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The Guardian

Christopher Tayler

A ranting quality sometimes creeps into the weirdly urgent disquisitions on Richard Dawkins, and the frank terror of death doesn't always mix well with Barnes's usual winsome wryness ... That's not to say, though, that he doesn't write elegantly about memory and ageing as well as death. And this strange book comes to life when Barnes discusses his family.

08/03/2008

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The Observer

Hilary Spurling

In so far as this book is a family memoir, its personnel - parents, grandparents, only brother and a handful of all but anonymous friends - are, by definition, dry and two-dimensional … Inanimate objects are more tenderly treated.

02/03/2008

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Times Literary Supplement

Brian Dillon

One suspects in the end that he is less afraid of death – which fear is the book’s ostensible theme – than he is of couching his dread in a clumsy phrase. This is both the proper literary response to the problem and the reason Nothing To Be Frightened Of is so elusive and even (despite its confessional depth and its breadth of reference) so curiously slight a volume.

26/03/2008

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The Daily Telegraph

Harry Mount

Some of the thoughts are his own, some belong to others; some good, some boring. But that's what they are - a random collection of thoughts with not much of an attempt to glue them together; not quite the golden treasury you'd expect the lionised novelist to glean from 30 years in the literary jet-set.

05/03/2008

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