Letters from London [NOOK Book]

Overview

With brilliant wit, idiosyncratic intelligence, and a bold grasp of intricate political realities, the celebrated author of Flaubert's Parrot turns his satiric glance homeward to England, in a sparkling collection of essays that illustrates the infinite variety of contemporary London life.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

With brilliant wit, idiosyncratic ...

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Letters from London

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Overview

With brilliant wit, idiosyncratic intelligence, and a bold grasp of intricate political realities, the celebrated author of Flaubert's Parrot turns his satiric glance homeward to England, in a sparkling collection of essays that illustrates the infinite variety of contemporary London life.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

With brilliant wit, idiosyncratic intelligence, and a bold grasp of intricate political realities, the celebrated author of Flaubert's Parrot turns his satiric glance homeward to England, in a sparkling collection of essays that illustrates the infinite variety of contemporary London life.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The essays in this collection of the celebrated British author of Flaubert's Parrot were originally published in The New Yorker and span the four years of Barnes's tenure as that magazine's London correspondent. From the debacle of Lloyd's of London's decline to the fatwa declared on Salman Rushdie, Barnes explores his topics with an innate curiosity and a merciless wit, using each event to explore the social and political landscape of modern London. If Letters from London has a shortcoming, it is one inherent in any such collection: lack of timeliness. With entries dating back to 1990, it is inevitable that portions of the book seem a bit stale. Some readers may be tempted to skip such missives as ``Vote Glenda!'' on actress Glenda Jackson's 1992 bid for a Parliamentary seat. But as Barnes notes in his preface, he is admirably ``wary of zeitgeist journalism and decade summarizing,'' and it is this refusal to proselytize or prognosticate that distinguishes Barnes's observations. On the 1994 ceremonial opening of the ``chunnel'' linking Britain and France, and the British anxiety over a possible resulting influx of rabid French animals, he notes, ``It was as if, lining up behind Mitterrand and the Queen as they cut the tricolor ribbons at Calais were packs of swivel-eyed dogs, fizzing foxes and slavering squirrels, all waiting to jump on the first boxcar to Folkestone and sink their teeth into some Kentish flesh.'' Probably of greatest interest to Barnes's many fans (and equally great numbers of Anglophiles), this collection is nonetheless a consistently pleasurable opportunity to watch a razor-sharp mind at work. (July)
Molly McQuade
British novelist Barnes "Flaubert's Parrot", 1985 uses his considerable wit to decipher the various wars--political, social, cultural--that seem, by his report, to keep life in England worth living. Or anyway, worth watching. The essays collected here, written originally for the "New Yorker", mostly analyze protracted current conflict that seems unlikely to find resolution and, for that reason, bulges out helplessly into story: legendary French-English animosity, hardly scuppered by the 1994 unveiling of the Channel Tunnel and chronicled in Barnes' "Froggy! Froggy! Froggy!" ; the struggle of the English royals to maintain dignity amid domestic comic melodrama "Traffic Jam at Buckingham Palace" . Barnes inadvertently shows why the British tend to make such ingenuously commanding narrators. He does it by dint of moral outrage, curiosity, and/or whimsy--uttering a word like "seminonspineless" nonchalantly; observing, "Rare is the landed viscount who desires an enigma in hornbeam for his own private puzzlement." Too much outrage can be a fetter, as in Barnes' uncharacteristically blunt piece on Salman Rushdie and the "fatwa". But mostly, his comments work like a pleasant whiplash.
From the Publisher
"Julian Barnes digs below the surface sheen to communicate genuine emotion."--The Toronto Star

"An exceptionally accomplished an ingenious stylist."--The New York Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307557377
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/27/2010
  • Series: Vintage International
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,108,610
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Julian Barnes
Julian Barnes is the author of ten novels, two books of stories, two collections of essays, and a translation of Alphonse Daudet’s In the Land of Pain. His honors include the Somerset Maugham Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2004 he was named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French ministry of Culture. He lives in London.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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    1. Also Known As:
      Dan Kavanagh
    2. Hometown:
      London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 19, 1946
    2. Place of Birth:
      Leicester, England
    1. Education:
      Degree in modern languages from Magdalen College, Oxford, 1968

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 7, 2013

    He Took the Pulse of a Nation...

    Julian Barnes was "invited" to be The New Yorker's London reporter in 1989, penning the magazine's Letters from London column. His predecessor, Mollie Panter-Downes, had worked the beat for nearly half a century beginning in 1939--tumultuous days for the island nation and the lady who told their story from a 15th century Tudor house in Surrey, near the capital. Barnes, himself a native Englishman, kept his reportorial notebook fired up for five years before departing in 1994; and then, no mistake about it, he left with notable distinction as this journalistic selection reveals. There is abundant variety in the assignments to engage us, something we naturally expect from a practiced letter writer. Barnes tackles everything from Margaret Thatcher's hard right-wing Tory crusade ("Mrs. Thatcher Remembers"), to Tom Keating's career as England's premier art forger ("Fake!"), to probing the story of the garden maze ("Year of the Maze"). There's also a flash of investigative reporting--and Barnes's indignation--in the Lloyds of London insurance market story ("The Deficit Millionaires"). A quarter century has passed since Barnes worked for The New Yorker and today he is a full-fledged man of letters where English is spoken. This delightful book helps explain why.

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