Letters from London

Letters from London

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by Julian Barnes
     
 

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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.  See more details below

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.

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)
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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679761617
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/28/1995
Series:
Vintage International Series
Edition description:
1st edition
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
795,148
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Born in Leicester in 1946, Julian Barnes is the author of nine novels, a book of stories, and a collection of essays. He has won both the Prix Médicis and the Prix Fémina, and in 1988 was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He lives in London.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
London, England
Date of Birth:
January 19, 1946
Place of Birth:
Leicester, England
Education:
Degree in modern languages from Magdalen College, Oxford, 1968

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Letters from London 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Basil More than 1 year ago
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.