Darkmans (Thames Gateway #3)
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Darkmans is an exhilarating, extraordinary examination of the ways in which history can play jokes on us all... If History is just a sick joke which keeps on repeating itself, then who exactly might be telling it, and why? Could it be John Scogin, Edward IV's infamous court jester, whose favorite pastime was to burn people alive - for...more
This is what Nicola Barker does. Here she's talking about what her character Elen does. She's a chiropodist.:
On a good day she was a Superman or a Wonderwoman,
doggedly fighting foot-crime and the causes of foot-crime (usually - when all was finally said and done - the ill-fitting shoe . . . Okay, so it was hardly The Riddler, or The Penguin, but in a serious head-to-head between a violent encounter with either one of these two comic-book baddies and an eight-hour, minimu...more
When I finished the book, though, I sat back and thought, "Hmm. Didn't know how to tie t...more
1) Barker has a tendency to over-italicize. I know this because I worry that I italicize too much, and if someone else's italics are bothering me, it must be a serious problem. I'm not kidding; Darkmans is like that old newspaper comic Brenda Starr*, where...more
I don't use this term lightly...more
"'Tis the season of huge literary novels. Those of us for whom size matters welcome with holiday cheer Denis Johnson's "Tree of Smoke," James McCourt's "Now Voyagers," two new translations of Tolstoy's "War and Peace," Paul Verhaeghen's "Omega Minor," Alexander Theroux's "Laura Warholic" and the 992-page "Adventures of Amir Hamza," an old Urdu saga (by way of Arabia and Persia) newly translated for the Modern Library. Crashing this boys' club from England comes...more
This was a really entertaining read. Despite the length (over 800 pgs) I cruised through it in about a week. Darkmans is written in a unique style that uses mostly dialog and inner narrative to move everything forward. The result is a fast pace that keeps the reader purposely on edge, slightly confused and constantly guessing. This pace really fits the plot well, which focuses on an ensemble cast of characters in a small English town who are all experiencing something strange, mystical and dange...more
350 pages in and enjoying MUCH more. Very funny book.
Whew!! What a ride. This book reminded me very much of a Tarantino movie in that some of the situations are absolutely off the wall (the pillory scene, for example), it's fast-paced and you just have to go with it. I'm sure there are many levels on which you could take this book and it would take another couple of reads...more
As we all know, it didn’t win, but in my humble opinion, Darkmans is a literary masterpiece – and one of the most endlessly fascinating books I have ever read.
Reading Darkmans is a bit like watching one of those nature documentaries where the camera lingers on an utterly ordinary, banal, patch of lawn, slowly drilling down to capture the intricate anthropological detail of the insect life buzzing among the blades....more
This year, it was time--and what a time I had with this book! The story, though small in actual scale, is peppered with so many warrens and boltholes and caches that captured me without warning an...more
So why put up with it.... I dont really know. They was enough humour in the first 300 pages (that admitedly, due to the gaps, were rapidly despat...more
I literally damaged my wrist holding this book in bed as I read it & was awakened on several occasions by it falling from my sleepy hands but you just cannot give-up on this crazy & hysterically funny (& tragic) adventure that Nicola takes you on - her writing is ALIVE in a way few authors can h...more
I didn't bargain on the first book that turned up being an over 800 page doorstep. (No, not a doorstop, I do think you could use this as a doorstep!)
My first impressions weren't great and I struggled through par...more
And that's where the story spirals out of control as Barker tries to add too many ingredients into her mix. The supernatural elements didn't quite gel... After a while I got really irritated with the constant intrusion of the characters' thoughts even as they conve...more
The characters are by far the novel's strong suit--Kelly Broad might be my new favorite character. Ever. U...more
The juxtaposition of this thoroughly modern setting and the force of history bubbling underneath it was fantastic.
I really like how Nicola Barker carefully introduces each of the characters and that they are fully-fleshed creations even if she does push them around like pawns some of the time. It's very skilful, sometimes very funny, and because the setting is a part of the world I know well tha...more
Nicola Barker is an English writer.
Nicola Barker’s eight previous novels include Darkmans (short-listed for the 2007 Man Booker and Ondaatje prizes, and winner of the Hawthornden Prize), Wide Open (winner of the 2000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award), and Clear (long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2...more
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'Not at all.'
'But it's an ancient discipline...'
'New Age disciplines invariably are,' Beede said, disparagingly, 'but in the modern world they lack context - we just pick them up and then toss them back down again, we consume them. They have no moral claim on us. No moral value. And without that they're rendered meaningless, fatuous, even.”