Barker, Nicola Behindlings

ISBN 13: 9780007135264

Behindlings

3.38 avg rating
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9780007135264: Behindlings

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 charismatic manipulator, an accidental murderer who longs to live his life anonymously. But he can't. It is his awful destiny to be hotly pursued – secretly stalked, obsessively hunted – by a disparate group of oddballs he calls The Behindlings. Their motivations? Love, boredom, hatred, revenge.

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Review:

Behindlings, the fifth novel from Nicola Barker, is a welcome return, both in mood and in geography, to the gothic terrain of her Impac Prize winner Wide Open. Set in parochial Canvey Island, Essex, this book has more in common with the television comedy The League of Gentlemen and the cult film The Wicker Man than a work of contemporary literary fiction. It is inventive, funny, unnerving and often magnificently strange.

Barker's Canvey (once dubbed "Candy Island" by Daniel Defoe) is, with its Wimpy Bar, dreary pubs and long-cherished grudges, rumours and secrets, a quintessentially English small town. Its emotionally damaged population is augmented by the "Behindlings" of the title, a gaggle of oddballs who follow, or more precisely obsessively stalk, the novel's enigmatic central character, Wesley. The architect of a chocolate company-funded treasure hunt, author of a pseudo-Nietzschean walking guide and the man behind the daring theft of an antique pond, he is a rather malevolent Pied Piper. Part Alvin Toffler-quoting, peripatetic environmental visionary, part immoral (and maybe downright evil) fraudster; he's also notorious for feeding the fingers on his right hand to an eagle owl "in an act of penance" for accidentally killing his brother.

Would-be-prizewinners and cranks are not the only ones drawn into his orbit. Josephine Bean, a local nurse and environmental campaigner; Katherine Turpin, a lascivious beansprout farmer maligned in his walking book; Arthur Young, a former employee of the treasure hunt's sponsors and Ted, the island's estate agent and closet seamstress, all seem to have a few reasons of their own for keeping an eye on Wesley.

Barker has always had a penchant for the surreal, and occasionally here both plot and characterisation can get swamped in flights of absurdist imagination. She is perhaps, too fond of the elaborate simile. The clackety, clackety of the "like a" and "as a" of her prose style is, from time to time, a little exasperating. Despite this, her narrative is so alluringly, so charmingly odd, bristling with puzzles and etymological games and full of wonderfully, devilishly comic touches, that it's easy to ignore its minor flaws. --Travis Elborough

Review:

‘Marvellously inventive, a cornucopia of cornucopias all the way to its brilliant non-ending – its refusal to end. It is a new kind of book, and an intense kind of joy.’ Ali Smith, TLS

‘Compelling. Barker’s narrative draws us in with the disturbing, surreal touch of a latter-day Lewis Carroll.’ Michelene Wandor, Sunday Times

‘Dazzling…She celebrates the complexity of human experience.’ Frank Egerton, The Times

‘Insanely inventive. Her vision of a marginal Britain populated by drifters and desperados is fired by a comic energy that dances on the edge of self-combustion.’ Alex Clark, Guardian

‘Barker’s eccentrics are the stuff of pure farce. And they allow her to reinvent, joyously, the cogs, gears and mechanics of the genre. She knows, as Wodehouse also knew, how to rev up the language, do baroque variations on a phrase, even break into a kind of poetry. Sheer wit and energy make “Behindlings” an excellent candidate for a cult novel – and not just a very good novel about a cult.’ Michael Pye, New York Times

‘Fucked up, fucked off and totally, weirdly brilliant.’ Eithne Farry, Elle

‘Extraordinary. Full of deadpan wit, black comedy and visual slapstick, the novel delights most through its imaginative extravagances.’ Katie Owen, Sunday Telegraph

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Nicola Barker
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 197 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 charismatic manipulator, an accidental murderer who longs to live his life anonymously. But he can t. It is his awful destiny to be hotly pursued - secretly stalked, obsessively hunted - by a disparate group of oddballs he calls The Behindlings. Their motivations? Love, boredom, hatred, revenge. Bookseller Inventory # AA89780007135264

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Behindlings, Nicola Barker, 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 charismatic manipulator, an accidental murderer who longs to live his life anonymously. But he can't. It is his awful destiny to be hotly pursued - secretly stalked, obsessively hunted - by a disparate group of oddballs he calls The Behindlings. Their motivations? Love, boredom, hatred, revenge. Bookseller Inventory # B9780007135264

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 197 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 charismatic manipulator, an accidental murderer who longs to live his life anonymously. But he can t. It is his awful destiny to be hotly pursued - secretly stalked, obsessively hunted - by a disparate group of oddballs he calls The Behindlings. Their motivations? Love, boredom, hatred, revenge. Bookseller Inventory # AA89780007135264

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Book Description 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 130mm x 197mm x 33mm. Paperback. the breakthrough commercial novel from one of the greatest comic writers in the language Some people follow the stars. Some people follow the soaps. Some people follow rare birds, or obsc.Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 544 pages. 0.380. Bookseller Inventory # 9780007135264

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