Life A User’s Manual – post VIII

Hurrah it’s only been a week and a half but at last a book gets completed.

All of a sudden – and there is not too much space left anyway – the Bartlebooth story starts to dominate and the anecdotes start to lean in onto the development of that core story.

By this stage of the book you start to value the style, which is best described as a detached Proust, his gaze never misses anything but there is not the emotional involvement with it and you can go from a story about a triple murder to something about a hotel chain without barely pausing for breath.

The ending comes and you are left wanting more – more of the stories of the people who lived in the apartment block and more of the tales that its objects inspire.

Bullet points between pages 410 – 500

* The story of Helene Borodin is told with her deciding to seek her own form of justice by tracking down her husband’s killers and snuffing them out one by one before heading back to France from America

* Then there is a long-winded description of how two hotel groups signed a strategic deal to try and compete with the growing number of multinational competitors by setting up the most exclusive hotels in the world

* Along with providing guests unique experiences like their own ski slopes the hotel chain plans to offer some of the most unique art and after hiring a well known critic Beyssandre and gives him five years to find the most famous art

* He reads about the Bartlebooth painting, jigsaw making, puzzle solving and then destruction and decides that those pictures would be the most unique in the world and after writing to Bartlebooth indicates he is prepared to start killing to get his hands on the pictures

* Just as it seems that the pictures will have to be destroyed in another way the hotel chain folds and nothing more is heard of the critic and Bartlebooth can return to his struggle to finish the puzzles

* There is then a tale of the young Reol family who are almost bankrupted by their desire to have a luxurious bedroom suite but just as it seems to be black things are saved; then there is the tale of the man who believes Hitler is alive; and a final mention of Hutting the painter

* But the book closes with Bartlebooth dying with Winckler’s final twist in his hand, a jigsaw piece that should be an X shape which is fact shaped as a W with him gone his old water colour teacher also dies and his servant disappears bringing to an end one of the main characters of the apartment block

As things reach their conclusion with Bartlebooth there is an incredibly powerful reminder that this entire book has been describing real time of just a few minutes and as an achievement this book is an incredible one

A review will follow over the weekend…

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