Excerpt from Pulse by Julian Barnes, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Pulse

Stories

By Julian Barnes

Pulse
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: May 2011,
    240 pages.
    Paperback: Feb 2012,
    240 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elena Spagnolie

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

          
Alice was surprised. In her worldview, everything was hopeless, but you just had to get on with it. And there wasn't much point changing what you believed at this late stage of the game.
           
She considered whether to answer seriously or lightly, and decided on the latter.
           
"As long as your god allows drinking and smoking and fornication."
           
"Oh, he's very keen on all of those."
           
"How about blasphemy? I always think that's the key test when it comes to a god."
           
"He's indifferent. He sort of rises above it."
           
"Then I approve."
           
"That's what he does. Approves."
           
"Makes a change. For a god, I mean. Mostly they disapprove."
           
"I don't think I'd want a god who disapproved. Get enough of that in life anyway. Mercy and forgiveness and understanding, that's what we need. Plus the notion of some overall plan."
           
"Did he find you or you find him, if that makes sense as a question?"
           
"Perfect sense," replied Jane. "I suppose you could say it was mutual."
           
"That sounds... comfy."
           
"Yes, most people don't think a god ought to be comfy."
           
"What's that line? Something like: 'God will forgive me, it's his job?'"
           
"Quite right too. I think we've overcomplicated God down the ages."
           
The sandwich trolley came past, and Jane ordered tea. From her handbag she took a slice of lemon in a plastic box, and a miniature of cognac from the hotel minibar. She liked to play a little unacknowledged game with her publishers: the better her room, the less she pillaged. Last night she had slept well, so contented herself with only the cognac and whisky. But once, in Cheltenham, after a poor audience and a lumpy mattress, she was in such a rage that she'd taken everything: the alcohol, the peanuts, the chocolate, the bottle opener, even the ice tray.
           
The trolley clattered away. Alice found herself regretting the days of proper restaurant cars with silver service and whitejacketed waiters skilled at delivering vegetables with clasped fork and spoon while outside the landscape lurched. Life, she thought, was mostly about the gradual loss of pleasure. She and Jane had given up sex at about the same time. She was no longer interested in drink; Jane had stopped caring about food - or at least, its quality. Alice gardened; Jane did crosswords, occasionally saving time by filling in answers which couldn't possibly be right.
           
Jane was glad Alice never rebuked her for taking a drink earlier than some. She felt a rush of affection for this poised, unmessy friend who always made sure that they caught their train.

Excerpted from Pulse by Julian Barnes. Copyright © 2011 by Julian Barnes. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Selected Books by Julian Barnes

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  92Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.