Sunday, 22 July 2012

Book of the Week - Nicola Barker, The Yips

Nicola Barker is an author who tends to push the boundaries so far as traditional plot and structure are concerned. She writes big books brimming with ideas and intelligent humour, but frequently leaving loose ends and unclear plot elements in her wake. The Yips is in some respects typical of her work - it is a large book full of unrealistic chaos, but with engaging ideas, very funny stories and set pieces, and larger than life characters who you might well hate to meet in real life but who work in the context of this novel.

Don’t expect realism or neat endings; do expect to be challenged while being entertained. This book will not be for everyone, but approach it with an open mind and you may well be entranced. Reviews have reflected the strong opinions which Barker tends to induce – some think it is a near masterpiece and others a mess. It does contain some golf content and is set in Luton, but don't allow that to put you off. The Telegraph describes it as “ A bizarre, bad-taste story of unhappy families”. I'm quite enjoying it, but will withhold final judgement until I have completed it.  Signed copies are available now.

" 2006 is a foreign country; they do things differently there. Tiger Woods' reputation is entirely untarnished and the English Defence League does not exist yet. Storm-clouds of a different kind are gathering above the bar of Luton's less than exclusive Thistle Hotel. Among those caught up in the unfolding drama are a man who's had cancer seven times, a woman priest with an unruly fringe, the troubled family of a notorious local fascist, an interfering barmaid with three E's at A-level but a PhD in bullshit, a free-thinking Muslim sex therapist and his considerably more pious wife. But at the heart of every intrigue and the bottom of every mystery is the repugnantly charismatic Stuart Ransom – a golfer in free-fall."

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