Friday, October 5, 2012

The Lemon Table

The Lemon Table is obsessed with loss: loss of sexual vitality, loss of creativity, loss of mental acuity, loss of romance. With the exception of one story, “Knowing French,” told in the form of letters to a writer named Julian Barnes from a lonely 81-year-old woman living in an old folks home--a woman who is still alert, intelligent, witty, and full of life--there is very little dignity, reconciliation, comfort, companionship, or other compensations of aging in these stories.

  1. Why do you think the author chose the first story to be first and the last story to be last?
  2. What do you think is the common theme of this collection?
  3. Is there any one tale that caught your attention? Why?
  4. Is there a short story that you think could be made into a novel or movie
  5. In The Revival the narrator is an old man – do you think he was foolish to try and recapture his youth? And what is the difference between him and the narrator in Hygiene (Turgenev)
  6. In The Things You Know two elderly widows sit down for a terribly polite breakfast once a month – what was your impression of them?
  7. Do you think that older people are portrayed differently in books and film? Why?
  8. Who do you think is the narrator in The Silence?
  9. Why did Julian Barnes call this collection The Lemon Table?
Barnes maintains a high level of privacy with regards to his personal life, though he is often very candid in interviews so it was difficult to research his thinking why he wrote the book.

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