By AMY FINCH  |  December 22, 2008

He sails down tributary rivers of thought, pondering people’s need for a narrative to glean meaning from life. Although he himself makes a career out of narrative, he views life as anything but — “life is a matter of cosmic hazard, its fundamental purpose mere self-perpetuation.” And forget about achieving immortality through the written word: “Eventually, the publishing houses forget, academic interest recedes, society changes, and humanity evolves a little further, as evolution carries out its purposeless purpose of rendering us all the equivalent of bacteria and amoebae.”

Barnes blames his thanaphobia on his imagination. But without imagination we’d have no eloquent, erudite books to evoke a distant future in which bacteria and amoebae slither out their lives high atop the fossilized civilization of homo sapiens.

JULIAN BARNES | Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline | September 26 at 7 pm | 617.566.6660 or

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