Book Description

From Booklist Barnes, who won the Man Booker Prize for his most recent novel, The Sense of an Ending (2011), is a stealthy essayist. His tone is urbane and wry, his style pared and sure, but his emotions are stormy. As in his previous essay collection, Nothing to Be Frightened Of (2008), death is Barnes? theme. Though one wouldn?t think so at the outset as he describes three nineteenth-century balloon flights in England and France enjoyed by three intriguing, eventually interconnected ?balloonatics.? There?s rascally Colonel Fred Burnaby; F?lix Tournachon, better known as Nadar, the pioneering aerial and portrait photographer; and the ?Divine? Sarah Bernhardt. Barnes muses on why being airborne is exhilarating, in spite of one?s being at the mercy of ?wind and weather.? The profound metaphorical resonance of Barnes? fascination with ballooning emerges as he addresses the sudden death of his wife of 30 years and his painful plunge into mourning. This bright wand of a book is testimony to Barnes? commanding artistry, delving intelligence, and high imagination as he writes of being ?griefstruck? with stunningly vital and tonic perception. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Read more Review ?Shattering. . . . Simultaneously wise, funny and devastating. . . . A fascinating discourse on love and sorrow.? ?The New York Times Book Review?Elegant. . . . Deeply stirring. . . . Barnes?s account of his grief [has] a fierce and fiery kind of momentum. Within a few pages it is aloft.? ?The Boston Globe?Levels of Life would seem to pull off the impossible: to recreate, on the page, what it is like to be alive in the world.? ?The Guardian (London) ? ?Wonderful. . . . Not a grief memoir so much as a grief meditation. . . . Short, crisp, measured, and deeply felt.? ?The New York Review of Books ?A rumination on grief and the alchemical power of love.? ?O, the Oprah Magazine?This is the most inventive and honest portrayal of grief we?ve read. . . . Barnes approaches memoir, a genre that too often errs on the side of sentimental, with complete grace.? ?The Huffington Post ?Powerful. . . . ?Sorrow is a kind of rust of the soul,? Barnes quotes Samuel Johnson. Levels of Life boldly and beautifully buffs the corrosion.? ?NPR ?Artistically exquisite. . . . A penetrating, absorbing and deeply moving study of love, heartbreak and the process of mourning.? ?Minneapolis Star Tribune ?A powerful dirge and slender but shapely work of art.? ?The Daily Beast ?Evocative and moving. . . . Levels of Life is a magically sad work, a record of loss that is also a record of life, whose shared stories heighten one another.? ?The Brooklyn Rail ?Stunning. . . . Deceptively compact but takes us deep. . . . Still grieving, still longing himself, Barnes, like Nadar from above in his hot air balloon, has given us a perspective never seen before.? ?The Miami Herald ?A tour-de-force masterwork.? ?Richmond Times-Dispatch ?Spare and beautiful. . . . A book of rare intimacy and honesty about love and grief. To read it is a privilege. To have written it is astonishing.? ?The Times (London) ?Eloquent. . . . A precisely composed, often deeply moving hybrid of non-fiction, ?fabulation,? and straightforward reminiscence and contemplation, is a gifted writer?s response to the incomprehensible.? ?The Times Literary Supplement (London) ?Profound. . . . Harrowing. . . . Anyone who has loved and lost can?t fail to be moved by this devastating book.? ?The Independent (London) ?Arresting. . . . Barnes writes with astonishing precision about mourning and grief, those areas of human experience so often camouflaged with evasion and silence.? ?The Daily Telegraph (London) ?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.? ?Daily Mail ?Moving, heartfelt, exact and telling. . . . A remarkable narrative that is as raw in its emotion as it is characteristically elegant in its execution.? ?The Irish Times ?At times unbearably sad, but it is also exquisite: a paean of love, and on love, and a book unexpectedly full of life. . . . In time [this] may come to be viewed as the hardest test and finest vindication of [Barnes?s] literary powers.? ?The Herald (Scotland) Read more See all Editorial Reviews