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Description - Wide Open by Nicola Barker

The title of this book is Wide Open and is written by author Nicola Barker. The book Wide Open is published by Faber & Faber. The ISBN of this book is 9780571195664 and the format is Paperback. The publisher has not provided a book description for Wide Open by Nicola Barker.

Book Details

ISBN: 9780571195664
ISBN-10: 0571195660
Format: Paperback
(196mm x 126mm x mm)
Pages: 352
Imprint: Faber & Faber
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publish Date: 5-Apr-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Wide Open by Nicola Barker

UK Kirkus Review » Downcast by the poor reception that Heading Inland received, Nicola Barker accepted the loan of a walking guidebook from a friend and decided to stomp her frustrations away. When she reached the Isle of Sheppey she found the beginnings of a new novel and made a triumphant return. Quirky, witty and original Barker's novel Wide Open concerns a group of misfits living on The Isle of Sheppey. Every day Ronny sees a man waving from a bridge, they eventually connect and find that they are both called Ronny, but for one of them the name is a burden inherited from a criminally abusive father. A series of unsettling tableaux follow, all unfolding simultaneously and soaked through with a sense of impending disaster. Her oddball characters interweave their dreams with reality, and hope to stumble on the meaning of life in their gimcrack surroundings. With her crisp dialogue and bleak humour, there are echoes of Ionesco and Beckett in the work of this brilliant young author. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A wayward, often puzzling, but ultimately rather haunting story about a group of outcasts, all in flight from a variety of real or imagined horrors, who collide on a desolate patch of British seacoast. British writer Barker (Love Your Enemy, stories, 1994, not reviewed; etc.) is exceptionally audacious; for much of the novel, the forces that have set her characters in motion and the odd ways in which several are related are only vaguely suggested. She depends on the sheer strangeness of them, their skewed mental states, and on her precise descriptions of their fractured interpretations of the world to propel the reader on. There are, to begin with, two men who meet in London - one is homeless, absorbed by weird rituals, perhaps suicidal; the other makes a living applying toxic sprays to urban weeds. Alarmed and fascinated by the homeless man, the latter takes him along to his small, featureless house by the sea. Both, it seems, are named Ronny. Their neighbors include Lily, a young woman who is "unpredictable, stunted . . . and raging," and Luke, a diffident pornographer. Soon they're joined by Connie, who's in search of a mysterious figure named as a beneficiary in her father's will, and Nathan, the older brother of one of the Ronnys, a man crippled by his failure to save his brother, years ago, from the appetites of their violent pedophile father. These figures are alike only in their baffled inability to communicate with the world and in their increasingly violent hopes of escape - from their odd dreams, from each other, and from life. A climax of sorts begins with the escape of a massive boar from a nearby farm. One character dies, another suffers a breakdown, several others achieve weird kinds of liberation. Theme resolutions, however, appear incidental. Barker seems determined both to defy most narrative expectations and to create a group of figures so isolated and so strange that they both fascinate and move us. It's some testament to her skill that she succeeds in both goals. Not an easy book, but an oddly (even unpleasantly) affecting one. (Kirkus Reviews)


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