Julian Barnes, The Essayist

Leo Robson at The New Statesman:

If the book has a raison d’être beyond a mild anti-Brexit subtext, it is Barnes’s repeated plea not to patronise the past – to recognise trailblazers such as Pozzi without chiding his contemporaries for failing to be more like “us” (“We know more and better, don’t we?”). So even if the book hardly qualifies as a work of history, it still delivers a message that all historians should heed.

Though I have never been convinced by the idea that Julian Barnes is an essayist trapped inside a novelist, The Man in the Red Coat suggests that he always had somewhere in him the author of gently rambling, lightly polemical book-length non-fiction. At one point, Barnes observes a little wistfully that “these matters could, of course, be solved in a novel”. I, for one, am glad he decided not to wander down that path and produced instead this lovable mongrel of a book.

more here.