All I could think when I was reading Love Etc. by Julian Barnes was the Rashomon effect. Here we have three friends, Oliver, Stuart, and Gillian, in a classic love triangle. But Barnes gives the love triangle a postmodern, playful twist where each character speaks to us, the reader, with face-to-face candor, as if we were some therapist in an office listening to their contradictory interpretations, feelings, and thoughts of the same events. This books is less about narrative and more about character and voice. That said, Barnes has an amazing ear for voice. Reading the book, hearing these characters speak their thoughts, I knew them. It's an intimate connection with characters that I don't think I've ever had with other books I've read.
Love, Etc. is filled with deep insights into love, relationships, and life. Barnes's writing is breathtaking sometimes. It punches you in the gut. This book could have devolved into soap opera hysterics, but it never does. Instead it is a cacophony of pain and bitterness and joy and passion that is intense, cunning, and delightful.
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