Levels of Life

Julian Barnes

Levels of Life

You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed...' Julian Barnes's new book is about ballooning, photography, love and grief; about putting two things, and two people, together, and about tearing them apart. 4.6 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
Levels of Life

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Biography
Format
Pages
RRP
Date of Publication April 2013
ISBN 978-0224098151
Publisher Jonathan Cape
 

You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed...' Julian Barnes's new book is about ballooning, photography, love and grief; about putting two things, and two people, together, and about tearing them apart.

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Reviews

The Independent

Martin Fletcher

It's an unrestrained, affecting piece of writing, raw and honest and more truthful for its dignity and artistry, every word resonant with its particular pitch. It defies objectivity. Anyone who has loved and suffered loss, or just suffered, should read this book, and re-read it, and re-read it.

29/03/2013

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The Mail on Sunday

Craig Brown

... at one and the same time straightforward and oblique, intimate and impersonal ... For all its intricate webbing between the world of balloons and the world of grief, Levels Of Life is, deep-down, a heartfelt attempt to chronicle the strange journey that follows the death of a loved one, along with all its pitfalls, among them ‘self-pity, isolationism, world-scorn’.

23/03/2013

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The Observer

Peter Conrad

The combination of forms and styles, slipping to and fro between airy fantasy and the grim immitigable facts of disease and death, really shouldn't work — but it does, thanks to Barnes's deft emotional insight and his verbal legerdemain.

07/04/2013

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The Sunday Telegraph

Jane Shilling

These experiences are both universal and individual. The loss of love is the loss of a language: of “shared vocabulary, of tropes, teases, shortcuts, in-jokes, sillinesses, faux rebukes, amatory footnotes — all obscure references rich in memory but valueless if explained to an outsider”. It is true that the private language of love doesn’t generally translate; yet how vividly Barnes invokes the power and delicacy of what is lost to him.

07/04/2013

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The Times

Ruth Scurr

This is a book of rare intimacy and honesty about love and grief. To read it is a privilege. To have written it is astonishing.

30/03/2013

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The Sunday Times

John Carey

Barnes’s high intelligence as a writer has never been in doubt, but it has not always been matched with profound emotive power. Here it is. Levels of Life is both a supremely crafted artefact and a desolating guidebook to the land of loss.

31/03/2013

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The Daily Telegraph

Tim Martin

By the third meaning-drenched conversation between Burnaby and Bernhardt about the dangers of uncontrolled flight and balancing a vessel, what started as subtext might as well be captioned Author’s Note. Little of this detracts from the extraordinary power of the final segment, in which Barnes writes with astonishing precision about mourning and grief, those areas of human experience so often camouflaged with evasion and silence. It’s writing so intense that one has trouble meeting its gaze

25/03/2013

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The Daily Mail

Roger Lewis

As a forensic analysis of sudden grief, the non-ballooning section in Levels Of Life is high art, essential reading. It is as powerful and well-articulated as Joan Didion’s harrowing and classic discussion of losing her husband, The Year of Magical Thinking. Barnes manages to be moving precisely because he leaves so much unsaid. His silences are eloquent. Nevertheless, if you are going to broach autobiography, I think it is the author’s duty to spill at least a few beans. By being Garboesque, readers simply speculate endlessly. Is this what famous prize-winning English author Julian Barnes actually wants? Or intends?

04/04/2013

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The Evening Standard

David Sexton

All of this is very affecting and immediately recognisable to all who have been bereaved: common in the best sense. Yet Barnes devotes a surprising amount of this short text to pernicketiness about other people and their failures of tact and sympathy, or merely their use of euphemisms.

28/03/2013

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