I've never been able to finish a book by Julian Barnes. I had hoped that Arthur and George would be my opportunity to finally break this streak, but alas. Once again, I have given up at page 115, which is about my average for his books. The other two I have tried are Flaubert's Parrot and A History of the World in 10½ Chapters. Both started off well (as did Arthur and George) but neither seemed to work for me past a certain point.
I can't really put my finger on why I don't succeed. The books always begin in an interesting way. But there seems to be a point at which I cease to care about the characters or the events. That's what happened in this book. I didn't care about Arthur very much, and I cared even less about George. And I couldn't figure out where the connection came between these two characters; by page 115 they hadn't yet met, and the book was continuing to use the formula of alternating chapters, one about Arthur, the next about George, etc. I was getting tired of that structure; like reading two books at once, both of which were dull.
The fact that Arthur is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was moderately interesting. Were his chapters a fictionalized account of his life? I'm not sure. George, as far as I could tell, is wholly fictional. Do these guys ever meet? I think they must, but I guess I'll never know for sure.
A look at Barnes's web site reveals that he's written all kinds of books, not just novels. I like the way he writes, so maybe I should try some of his essays or short stories, since they probably end before they get boring. Letters from London looks good, and Cross Channel.