Saturday, April 7, 2007

BOOK: A History of the World in 10.5 Chapters by Julian Barnes

This book was not what I thought it would be, but I still liked it. I thought it would be like the title said- a history of the world, and when the first chapter was about a stowaway on Noah's Ark it made sense. But the book then veered off and the rest of the chapters related somehow back to Noah's Ark and wormwood, the bugs. I was dazzled by Barnes ambition and ability to connect some very disparate stories, but they weren't really different in theme. Boats and religion were all there in each chapter in someway. I liked the chapters about the dream of heaven, the art criticism, the court record of sixteenth century France against wormwood. It reminded me about a Colin Firth movie I saw, set in the same time in France, where a pig was charged with murder. Several chapters were based on true accounts including one about a boat full of Jewish refugees as the second world war is getting started. And how Barnes was able to tie all the chapters together somehow was fun to watch for. I like short story collections and ones with a theme or connection are even better. I liked this book a lot.
heidijane wrote a great review of this book for the 15books/15decades challenge that sums up this book very nicely.
I'm sure I read another book like this, with one object passing through many generations or hands and told in a series of seemingly unconnected short stories, but I can't remember the name. There was a movie called The Red Violin somewhat like this as well.