Is life a zero-sum game?
Jules and his older siblings Liz and Marty, who lose their parents in a childhood accident and grow up in a boarding school in southern Germany in the 1980s. Fundamentally different, each character fights the loss differently, but the focus is on Jules, once self-confident, he is now withdrawing.
Is life a game where luck is punished with bad luck, a kind of zero-sum game? Benedict Wells' novel "The End of Loneliness" investigates this question. The novel tells of coming to terms with coming to terms with loss, missed opportunities, high hopes, loneliness and, above all, love.
With the words “I've known death for a long time, but now death also knows me”, Wells immediately throws you into the story - a really great first sentence that immediately made me curious. A man wakes up after a motorcycle accident in the hospital and suddenly remembers why he is lying there. But then the novel begins chronologically with his childhood.
Jules ‘Growing up is accompanied by fundamental philosophical questions about being, as well as small quotes from Rainer Maria Rilke or lines from songs like Paolo Contes“ Via Con Me ”, which is a repeating motif. These overlapping moments ensure a compassionate reality of life, as if one were remembering with Jules. Often chapters seem like fragments from his life, which, lined up like pieces of a puzzle, make the image of the confused man with the motorcycle accident clearer - so that he not only understand him, but also empathize! Because it is precisely the feeling that is in the foreground in this novel, sometimes pain, sometimes excitement or the purest joy, which are underlined by Wells' very calm, poetic writing style. A very good example of this is the description of Jules' sister, who was incredibly distant and unreachable during his childhood in the home: "She talked like someone dying of thirst would drink: greedy for every single word"
It is the longings and the inner workings of people that Wells seems to understand very well. This is how the outer and inner world is spoken of and how Jules no longer finds access to the former. He constantly asks himself what if ... This humanity and the love for detail make the characters in this novel look very vivid, as if you knew them - but somehow not, as in real life.
The big question about a job, a life's work is an important topic: Hardly anyone can get hold of Jules, he trots through life unsuccessfully and doesn't know what he wants, just the memory of the mysterious Alva, whom he already had from school knows, doesn't seem to let go of him. They had a special friendship in his youth, but the two will not talk about their feelings for a very long time. Touchingly and with memory fragments, Wells tells of the most intense moments in a love story.
Overwhelmingly beautiful and emotionally intensive, Wells creates a story in his novel that, with its delicate melancholy, but also the luminous joy, seems to have been taken from life.
“From the end of loneliness” is one of those books that you almost want to read slowly to savor every page and that leaves a strange feeling of emptiness and fulfillment when you have read it through. I am still deeply touched and I would like to recommend this novel to everyone.
Conclusion: I couldn't think of any better way to put it than simply to say that this is one of the best and most touching books I've read in recent years. Highly recommended!
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