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Behindlings (Thames Gateway #2)

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  229 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
A brilliantly funny novel from one of our most unconventional literary talents, Nicola Barker.

Some people follow the stars. Some people follow the soaps. Some people follow rare birds, or obscure bands, or the form, or the football.

Wesley prefers not to follow. He thinks that to follow anything too assiduously is a sign of weakness. Wesley is a prankster, a maverick, a cha
Paperback, 534 pages
Published 2002 by flamingo
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(showing 1-30)
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Nick Davies
Mar 03, 2017 Nick Davies rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Hmm. Here is a messy review of what is a messy novel.

Pros: Frequent, but not so frequently to save the book, delightfully clever descriptions. Several of the characters were colourful and intriguing, and held my interest (others, less so). The central idea of a group of people following a mysterious bloke for various uncertain reasons was an interesting one and posed plenty of thought-provoking questions. Readable enough to get through, with a bit of a struggle.

Cons: Confusing. Strange for the
MJ Nicholls
Last night I finished reading Nicola Barker’s monolithic novel Behindlings: an über-manic triumph for the imagination wired on a diet of speedball and Dr. Pepper. Barker is one of the most venerated novelists of her generation, winning the Impac Award at the turn of the millennium, and has been raking in the prizes and wonga ever since.

Behindlings is a throbbing headache of a novel. Her language kept me smiling and giggling for the first 200 pages – when her talent knew no fault, when her loopy
This was one of the more confusing books I've read in the last few years, but ultimately, also one of the most satisfying; I spent the first half banging my head against the wall because there was just so much stuff going on, and the second half shouting around my fist because it was falling together in completely crazy, unexpected ways. Very enjoyable! Most definitely a great read to ring in 2008! I'd certainly look for more of Barker's books after this.
Aug 09, 2015 Lukerik rated it it was ok
God this was difficult. I'm in two minds about it. On the one hand there are some outbursts of exceptionally fine writing, like this from chapter ten:

“Dewi chewed solemnly on a heavily-salted tomato sandwich as he peered through his living room window, his dust-iced skin zebraed by the sharp stripes of winter light which gushed, unapologetically – like hordes of white-frocked debutantes flashing their foaming silk petticoats in eager curtsies – between the regimented slats of his hand-built shut
Jun 12, 2015 Keri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book in Barker's Thames Gateway series, although I'm not entirely sure where the 'series' part is as the characters are different, the subject is different and the location is different. Maybe it's a British thing I don't understand. Anyway, the premise of the story is quirky and interesting. Like Wide Open, the reader enters the story where the characters pretty much know everything and it is a process to reveal it to the reader. I thought there were pieces of the story that ...more
Oct 26, 2008 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was great fun. I love Barker's weird imagination - to create such a strange cult character like Wesley is a feat. The story line is linear but written like a mystery novel - you don't get all the details, there are plenty of loose ends left open to the imagination, and she builds her characters slowly and systematically. I didn't give it a 5, however, because her writing style drives me insane. Where was her editor? If she was trying for stream of consciousness, she DIDN'T nail it. The ...more
Feb 24, 2009 Staci rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I started this book forever-ago, and I should have kept at it and focused on finishing it in a much more timely manner. But I didn't -- the book hardly kept my attention for a full chapter at a time, so I kept putting it down and going back to it every now and then. As a result, I easily confused the characters and forgot who some were all together. This woman is an amazing writer and I'm sure this book is infinitely interesting, but it is very slow (on purpose, I believe) and often confusing, w ...more
Jul 29, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: keeper, bought-new
Move over Coe, there's a new favourite author in town. Barker's writing reminds me of why I fell in love with books in the first place. You read on, having no idea what's going to happen next (or, invariably, what's happening now) and, frankly, it doesn't matter because the here and now is such a pleasurable place to be, thanks to her gleefully joyful descriptions, similes and random tangents. What it never is, though, is twee, idyllic comedy: she's sufficiently potty-mouthed and downright nasty ...more
Ann M
May 13, 2008 Ann M rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I could not get into this book at all. One reviewer said it was "twee" -- good word for it.
Apr 21, 2009 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i found it bizarre and aggravating but strangely compelling
Dec 14, 2009 Jan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wesley has eaten mostly seabirds in the past two months, Walks the perimeter of Canvey Island every morning (seventeen miles to be exact), and is fond of middle-aged librarians. For those who Follow, it's become confounding, because he usually moves on after a couple of days.

Prepare to be equally confounded with "Behindlings," a literary blender slopping out half-spoken bits of dialogue and little bits of scavenger hunt detritus. Nicola Barker has essentially written a sharp-tongued mystery. As
It's hard to describe Nicola Barker's writing. At times, this book seems to be just a lot of nonsense happenings, and it's difficult to fully figure out what's going on - even after finishing, I still can't say I have, but oddly, that didn't detract from my enjoyment, and I love her writing anyway. There's something about it for me that's hard to pinpoint, but I can say that the oddity of the characters and events has a great appeal to me. She's a "new" author to me, but is a UK author who's bee ...more
Paolo Aceves
Jan 23, 2014 Paolo Aceves rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, fiction
I think this book was too British for me, although I endured throughout the beginning with an endless sea of metaphors, seriously if the metaphors would be reduced to a minimum the book wouldn't be as long and wouldn't be so exhausting to finish. And the overuse of adjectives, felt like Nicola Barker was writing the novel with a thesaurus next to her. But the payoff was good, the reveals at the end on how the novel comes all together is rewarding and it gives a sense of human nature with all its ...more
May 17, 2014 Cliff rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have given up on this. I have become totally weary of the author's overuse of metaphor on page after page. She piles one on top of another. I've reached pages 164/165 and find three paragraphs using double or triple or quadruple metaphors on those two pages alone. Ok Ms Barker, you have a wonderful command of English but do you really need to show off quite as much? I thought this went out with Gerald Manley Hopkins
Mar 15, 2013 Jody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicola Barker is not for everyone. She's got a steam-of-consciousness technique that takes some effort, but it's mostly worth it. I didn't enjoy Behindlings as much as Darkmans, however; none of the characters really had a chance to make an impression. I couldn't really understand why Wesley was so compelling, for instance. If a guy is going to inspire a literal following, I would like to see some evidence for it.

It was worth the read, but probably not a good entry point for her work.
Jun 17, 2011 VeganMedusa marked it as not-finished
Shelves: own-copy
Maybe this would make more sense if I'd read the first one? Although a review said they're only based in the same world so it doesn't matter. I just wasn't in the mood to stick with it more than 120 pages. But I like the author's style so I may try other books by her.
May 29, 2007 shiv rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
twee in a way i didn't particularly enjoy; always the threat of something sinister on the horizon, never delivered. though i did enjoy the reindeer quite a bit.
Oct 21, 2010 Brook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
pretty interesting characters... but a fucking bear to read. so many odd meanderings...
Aug 12, 2007 Cason marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Author on the 2007 Booker List
If you enjoy Last of the Summer Wine (British tv program) you will probably like this book - although it is basically without a plot, nevertheless it is compelling.
Stopping for now. Maybe I'll take a run at it later.
Ann Lynda
Apr 27, 2009 Ann Lynda is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I've ground to a halt with this - a great book but lack of plot means it's a bit too put-downable. I hope to pick it up again some day!
Shonna Froebel
Jul 06, 2013 Shonna Froebel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Odd book, but quite interesting
Nov 22, 2010 Emilie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book had one of my favorite endings ever!
Apr 18, 2011 Kris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is really brilliant, in its way, but it's also extremely gimmicky. You decide.
Oct 25, 2009 Josie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
hi nicola
I'd cast RDJ as Wesley and Helena Bonham Carter as Katherine. Plot slows WAY down towards the end and the short exchanges of thoughts and unfinished sentences are bothersome. But I do like her style.
May 27, 2009 Sandra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book got a little too confusing for me. I stopped about 2/3 of the way through and i don't think i'm going to finish it.
Jan 21, 2009 Grace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a really good read - the characters and dialogue so interesting that it doesn't matter that it sort of just ends. The story is important but not in a conventional beginning/end plot way.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

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 about Nicola Barker...

Other Books in the Series

Thames Gateway (3 books)
  • Wide Open (Thames Gateway, #1)
  • Darkmans (Thames Gateway, #3)

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