I managed to squeeze in one more book before the weekend, Julian Barnes’s Pulse. It’s a collection of short stories, mostly published elsewhere first, and that fact at first made me suspicious. But this is a very cleverly and carefully constructed collection. The reviewer at the link I have provided says it all so much better than me. Barnes, like Foulds, is at one and the same time extraordinarily meticulous in his use of words and yet brilliant at writing flowing prose and dialogue. It is only on a second reading that the true depths of his reflections become apparent. Indeed, for a budding writer, Pulse is a sort of masterclass on how to write short stories: in turns humourous, poignant, and acerbic, Barnes never loses sight of his underlying aim, which is to analyse human connections in all their glory and frailty.