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Jul 17, Clint rated it it was amazing Shelves: I wrote a cool review for this but the stupid fucking internet connection here is basically two pieces of shit tied together with dental floss, and it got erased. Anyway, great book. View 1 comment. Having rugby-tackled Behindlings and found its descent into incoherence off-putting, I tried earlier works from Barker: Small Holdings and Reversed Forecast. The results were favorable, but it is with Wide Open that I have come to understand her particular brand of genius.

Barker is Queen of the Freaks. Her novels are contrived on a grand scale with a large cast of characters who revolve around one enigmatic weirdo, in this case the shell-obsessed Ronnie. Throughout the course of the novel we com Having rugby-tackled Behindlings and found its descent into incoherence off-putting, I tried earlier works from Barker: Small Holdings and Reversed Forecast.

Throughout the course of the novel we come to learn the significance of a batch of letters addressed to him from former lover Monica, and learn the mystery of her disappearance. On the whole though, the book is mainly an excuse to befriend the charming and warped batch of engaging and affecting characters that populate Barker's mental landscape. From fat pornographer Luke to an outspoken teenager Lily, the dialogue seethes with originality and the prose is infectious, original and moving.

View 2 comments. Mar 25, Kira Henehan rated it really liked it. I love Nicola Barker. If the description on the back appeals to you, you may be unpleasantly surprised by what you find inside; for some reason they put really innocuous jacket copy on this very dark work I'm speaking of the US paperback edition. I was just reading some of the other comments where reviewers wrote this book felt incomplete or flailing and so forth and while this may be the case again, I read DARKMANS before this which did feel more thorough , I just really appreciate the effort - flailing or not - that this author puts forth in creating books that feel new and unique on the level of both language and narrative.

Feb 01, Nancy rated it it was ok Shelves: western-europe , award-winner , family , fiction , england. This book cannot be trusted. It lures you in by being ostensibly a British comedy filled with endearingly eccentric characters and funny dialogue and then, once you are completely drawn in, begins to peel back the layers and to bit by bit reveal the darkness that lies at the core of all that apparent quirkiness. But then, the novel keeps you on your toes right from the start, beginning with the way it presents a parade of apparently unrelated characters, sending the reader to hunt for clues on h This book cannot be trusted.

But it is not as easy as that, because they both have a past that sticks with them even after the name change. And it does not help that those histories also have to be pieced together by the reader from scattered scraps and throwaway mentions - and remain so to some part even after the end of the novel, not every thread is neatly tied up by the finale. Or that is how it seemed to me, maybe I just need to dig deeper, search more thoroughly, try out different patterns… Eventually, everything converges in the somewhat unlikely location of the Isle of Sheppey in Kent; everyone is brought together for a grand finale, and things get quite dramatic, there are even gunshots fired.

At the same time, nothing is really resolved, but each of the characters have had their inner selves revealed to each other and to the reader, have been laid wide open. Wide Open is a novel that is both very funny and deeply disturbing. Interestingly though — and this, I think, is what makes this novel special — it does not follow the strategy of making us laugh at something essentially horrifying in order to enhance the horror like, to just take the first example that enters my mind, Catch 22 does. All in all, it makes for a very disconcerting, at times even positively uncomfortable reading experience, also a very unique one.

Every time Ronny drives to work, he sees a man standing on a bridge waving at the cars passing under. One day he stops his car and goes to meet the man. The man says he has the same name as him. It is very strange. There Every time Ronny drives to work, he sees a man standing on a bridge waving at the cars passing under. There is a lot going on, and you have to work quite hard to figure out exactly what.

It is extremely dark, visceral and frequently disturbing. If you know, please enlighten me!


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It seems to be composed mainly of groups of three or so sentences that mean exactly the same thing, with the repetition not adding anything, e. An uncertainty. A monstrous indecision.

A blankness. View all 3 comments. This is fairly well-written, and it does have an engaging, immersive quality. But as I read I simply cannot stop wondering why everyone, literally everyone, in the book has to be so fucking crazy. Like not one person in the book can be even remotely normal?

Isn't that a bit I also feel like it's trying to have both the butter and the butter money on the dramatic reveal of a tragic backstory traditional suspense narrative front. I keep wanting to track the author down, shake her by the s This is fairly well-written, and it does have an engaging, immersive quality. I keep wanting to track the author down, shake her by the shoulders and demand that she either be explicit or stop fucking hinting around. Jan 21, Alison rated it really liked it. This is probably the best book I've not been able to finish.

I loved it, the characters are unique and jump off the page with tics and quirks, and yet I couldn't understand what the hell was going on, and who was related to who and how and why.

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I came to Goodreads to see if anyone could explain it with a chart or something but no. At least I'm not the only one. It's not us, it's her. Still one of the best narrative voices I've ever read, but not enough structure, not enough clues. Jul 24, Jayne Charles rated it liked it. Electric, daring prose from start to finish, and a highly original novel. I doubt whether it did much for tourism on the Isle of Sheppey, rather giving the impression that everyone there is sad, mad, bad or quite possibly all three.

The most sane character of the lot appears to be a pornographer. In the first half of the novel, an intricate framework of links between the various characters is built up, and every time the narrative threatens to cross the line that separates tantalising from baffling, facts are dropped in to keep things on the level.

I suspect I would need multiple re-readings to really understand it properly. Jan 25, Gretchen rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction. Still on my Nicola Barker kick -- this book was an easier read than Darkmans but not as well crafted or bizarre. That said, it was a brilliant work and very moving. The metaphor of being 'wide open' to life's chaos and ramblings was one of the central themes and there was a bit of mystery and surprise towards the end. Again, a book about the human condition and the trouble of relating to other people.

Coastal, British, the usual it seems from Barker but far from being dull or boring.

Wide Open Country - It's more than country music, it's country life.

A great rea Still on my Nicola Barker kick -- this book was an easier read than Darkmans but not as well crafted or bizarre. A great read!


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Jan 24, Moira rated it liked it Shelves: just-finished. I missed something somewhere that would have made me super love this book. I take full responsibility for missing it, I think this could have really moved me if I had been paying closer attention or something. The writing style is really affecting, it holds you in a state of very delicate tension. Overall the book made me feel really weird, and the fact that I felt anything at all is saying something.

But still I didn't quite get it. I got the underlying Christ thing, but I feel pretty unsure I missed something somewhere that would have made me super love this book. I got the underlying Christ thing, but I feel pretty unsure about the rest of it. I'm really glad I don't have to do a book report on this.

Jan 03, Allison rated it did not like it Shelves: stopped-reading.

The Last Wide Open

I really couldn't see why I would keep reading this book, when after halfway through it, I still was not enjoying it, didn't care about any of the characters, and there was no point. The only thing that I thought while reading it is that everyone in the book is crazy. So I gave up finally - cut my losses and moving on. Sep 07, Nadine Jones rated it it was ok Shelves: literary-schmiterary , people-named-neve-lily-nadine , f-ed-up , mystery. I dreamed I saw you dead in a place by the water. A ravaged place. All flat and empty and wide open.


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This is a very odd book. Everyone in Nicola Barker's world appears to be insane.

go Maybe they all ingested the same hallucinogen. This was unusual, and brilliantly written, but I can't really say that I thought it was "good," if the definition of "good" is: "I enjoyed reading this. What is this book about? Maybe it's about how I dreamed I saw you dead in a place by the water. Maybe it's about how the past lives within us, and how it can affect us in the present. Maybe it's about finding inner peace or joy no matter what your circumstances.

Maybe it's about truth and perception of truth. Maybe it's about individuality and existensialism. Maybe it's about salvation. Maybe it's about sex. Maybe it's about God. Maybe it's just a mindfuck. Maybe it's about masturbating Jesus.