Julian Barnes — “The Lemon Table” (2004)

3

I’ve already mentioned this book earlier in my October haul as a cornerstone novel which should determine my future interactions with Julian Barnes. I was afraid to read “The Lemon Table”, but this book turned out to be a good one.

The Lemon Table

“The Lemon Table” is a compilation of short stories. All these stories are dedicated to the memory and the process of remembering the past. I should admit that this topic is one of my favourites, so I raised the score of this book from “hopeless” to “promising” from the very beginning. When I read something about memories and the past I always remember books by Kazuo Ishiguro. I tried to compare Barnes and Ishiguro as they’re both English writers, but it was impossible to do that, as their writing styles are very different. So this book is about memory and jokes. Actually, Barnes does not joke in “The Lemon Table”, as he did in his previous books I’ve already read, but the overall atmosphere was really playful. It’s amazing how Barnes mixing serious things with reader-provoking stuff.

Pros

Variety of content. All stories are very different, so it’s easy to find something you’ll like most. I really enjoyed reading “The Story of Mats Israelson” which tells of the unconsummated love affair in a small Swedish town between Anders Boden, a respected sawmill owner and Barbro Lindwall, the wife of a pharmacist new to the town. This is a really sad and promising story!

Cons

Roughness. In my opinion, stories are good, but together they are creating a mess. I mean, some of the stories a poorly matched together: some of them are very good and others are really bad. The book is very “unstable” even it dedicated to the specific topic.

Overall

Despite the fact, that some of the stories are really bad, this book left me in a good mood and I enjoyed reading it. I like Julian Barnes and his style more than I hate his books and I will read him further.

Book cover via kobo.com