Subtle and real
The short story has a stigma surrounding it such that the reader might think the author is resting on his or her laurels. This is certainly not so with Julian Barnes’ recent collection of short stories, Pulse. The shorter genre never hampers him; it only empowers. The form enables him to get to the quick faster; because of that he is able to examine long-term relationships and discuss them prosaically. This literary form can be a turnoff to some, but with a deft hand, Barnes makes clear the narrative and easily illuminates the simple ways we communicate with each other. Every friend, lover or acquaintance is evolved into a very real, identifiable form, and the reader is left with what seems like a true story. Barnes’ style remains clear and accessible though the subject matter of his work is complex. He can expect to lure a new generation of readers with his subtlety.