Kanakagiri Siddhartha

Levels of Life

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Julian Barnes is the author of The Sense of an Ending, which was one of the most well written book i read. He managed to put so much mystery and enigma in 190 pages while being extremely pleasing to read. In Levels of Life, he tackles far more relatable feelings like love, longing and loss and excels once again in drawing readers into a swirl of emotions at once sublimely beautiful and disturbingly terrifying, more of the former than later.

"You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed."

You put together the history of Ballooning (hot air with wicker basket kind), with some photography mixed in, with an expression of grief that can only ever make sense to you and you alone, and interject it with a love story destined to end in grief and a profoundly beautiful book is born.

Levels of Life is a kind of memoir of author Julian Barnes. Kind of because it is so much more than that. Apart from an entertaining history of early hot air ballooning and its two pioneers, It is his expression of the emptiness the death of his wife left him with, his initial reluctance to fill the vacuum with anything else, his anger and frustration that his friends refuse to corroborate his memories of her, his despair and pain. And a lot more. And it is just 120 pages long. But it will give you a pause almost every page in the later half of them.

His deliberations on the nature of grief, some his own thoughts, some borrowed from others are thought provoking and, as usual for Barnes, written in some of the most beautiful English i have ever read.

But I especially loved the way he keeps aside his finesse, and destroys, for one time and all, the ridiculous statement “What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger” with the bluntness that it deserves.

In the end, when he seems to finally come to terms with his grief, accepting that it hurts exactly as much as it is worth, so in a way one relishes the pain, If it didn't matter, it wouldn't matter, It basically elevates grief onto the same plane that love occupies. Thats the achievement here.

Thats something most other writers cannot do even in 500 pages. A must read.

Siddhartha's books

A Christmas CarolMidhunamLate Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third WorldThe HobbitThe Emperor of All MaladiesThe Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man's RecreationThe Lord of the RingsMan Against MythOne Last Story and That's It
ChowringheeHarry Potter Boxed SetThe Sense of an EndingThe Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius RamanujanThe AlchemistThings Fall ApartA Time to KillThe Hungry TideSea of Poppies
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August 18, 2019

2017 Reading Challenge

Siddhartha has read 0 books toward his goal of 29 books.
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