- 言語: 英語
- ISBN-10: 0007273541
- ISBN-13: 978-0007273546
- 梱包サイズ: 19.6 x 13 x 5.4 cm
- おすすめ度： 1 件のカスタマーレビュー
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From the award-winning author of 'Clear 'comes an epic novel of startling originality. 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 favourite pastime was to burn people alive -- for a laugh? Or could it be Andrew Boarde, Henry VIII's physician, who kindly wrote John Scogin's biography? Or could it be a tiny Kurd called Gaffar whose days are blighted by an unspeakable terror of -- uh -- salad? Or a beautiful, bulimic harpy with ridiculously weak bones? Or a man who guards Beckley Woods with a Samurai sword and a pregnant terrier? 'Darkmans' is a very modern book, set in Ashford (a ridiculously modern town), about two very old-fashioned subjects: love and jealousy. It's also a book about invasion, obsession, displacement and possession, about comedy, art, prescription drugs and chiropody. And the main character? The past, which creeps up on the present and whispers something quite dark -- quite unspeakable -- into its ear. 'Darkmans' is the third of Nicola Barker's visionary narratives of the Thames Gateway. Following on from 'Wide Open' (winner Dublin IMPAC award 2000) and 'Behindlings' it confirms Nicola Barker as one of Britain's most original and exciting literary talents. --このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。
'When a new novel by Nicola Barker arrives, there is a host of reasons to break into a smile. Chief among them is that she is one of the most exhilarating, audacious and, for want of a better word, ballsy writers of her generation. And, in a publishing terrain that often inhibits ambition and promotes homogeneity, there is nobody writing quite like her.' Alex Clark, Observer 'Inventive, witty and well staged.' Hugo Barnacle, Sunday Times 'There is a constant sense she might launch us into the minds of one of her psychotics and leave us there, and this gives her books a fearsome energy.' Independent 'Rich, sensual, almost synaesthetic powers of description and association.' Times Literary Supplement 'Each of her works brims with electricity, energy and invention, with rude humour, originality and contrariness. Who else but Barker would produce an 838-page epic with little describable plot, taking place over just a few days and set in -- wait for it -- Ashford? For that's what "Darkmans" is, and it is phenomenally good. Barker is a great, restless novelist, and "Darkmans" is a great restless novel. At the end of 838 blinding, High-octane pages, I was bereft that there weren't 838 more.' Patrick Ness, Guardian 'An idiosyncratic, witty and utterly original vision of Albion.' Independent 'Her books are experimental in style, endlessly inventive. Finely plotted, multi-stranded narratives, packed with big ideas.' Susan Mansfield 'Nicola Barker's new novel, "Darkmans", is an ambitious, daring, delightful and compelling work. If any young British writer -- male or female -- is dreaming big nightmares and taking jaw-dropping risks, it's Barker! ["Darkmans"] is twisted and braided with an intricacy so delicate you barely notice the links until the whole web engulfs you!Barker has specialised in eccentric characters in overlooked locations, but "Darkmans" adds an epic intensity to her oeuvre. Although it is more than 800 pages long, it is fearfully gripping: I stayed up in the wee small hours to read it -- perhaps unsurprisingly, since its slow-release, cumulative horrors make any sleep uneasy. Perhaps only David Lynch could do justice to a celluloid version of its surreal (and genuinely funny) humour, its gathering darkness and its beautiful, mystifying strangeness.' Scotland on Sunday 'This book describes a world in which people, families, communities and old value systems have gone adrift. Paradoxically, while signifying loss, discontinuity, destruction, Barker's narrative also conveys a notion of people held together: this flowing, discursive storytelling washes along like the Thames itself, embracing everything. Surreal and satirical vision of modern life.' Michele Roberts, FT Magazine 'Nicola Barker's writing is hugely attractive, because it conjures images and ideas from a tremendous wealth of inspiration. It is the product of a powerful, sprawling imagination. It could easily become a cult book, with groups of readers able to discuss the growing layers of significance as new ideas link up to form a world view. It deserves to be, as there are whole passages where every other word awakes some theme planted earlier in the novel.' Daily Telegraph --このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。商品の説明をすべて表示する
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Barker's way with words, her characterizations, her elusivity as regards past and present, shared reality and nuttiness, her skills at dialogue and her sense of humour, are topnotch. Her ability to set a scene and to capitalize on it to keep the work moving forward is remarkable. We want to know what's going to happen, we want a denouement, we want all to be tidily tied together. We are deprived of this wish, as life so deprives us: so does Darkmans mirror our life. And just as the real world sets forth coincidences, so does Darkmans.
Logic falters in the face of the present, stories are made of what we hope happened, or what SHOULD happen. Barker doesn't let us off that easily. Readers are left confused and frustrated, at least in part. Darkmans hosts a hundred characters, of which none, after we close the back cover, can we conclude lived a life fantastic. Some, in fact, were left to hang far before that, and the few false notes in Darkmans may be the treatment of some of the minor figures: in a weft that required so many threads, occasionally a few will snarl the weave.
Other criticisms? The end. There's no ease in the finish. Was Barker rushed by her publisher? It is a long work, surely. Without giving anything away, the last 20 pages involves stop and go traffic, accidents, a sort of perpetuum mobile that made me wonder whether Barker's editor had pushed her too hard to finish.
Ostensibly, the work is set in the UK of a few years ago. Ostensibly, there are references to Edward IV's jester, John Scoggin, to schizophrenia, and to fatal attractions. What of it? Barker's way with words are such that you would be intrigued were she to write a history of laundry soap.
Reader, if you like Pynchon, or Murakami, Vollman, or even Elias Canetti, you will want to read Darkmans. If you prefer uncertainty to a tidy settlement, if you are comfortable with implication and in the drawing of only partial conclusion, in short, if you are looking for a modern work that requires you to bright forth your own, and then withdraw your ideas on character, direction, and end, than you will want to read Darkmans. Having just done so, I envy you the opportunity.
Barker interrupts the flow of the story frequently to make comment. It took me some time to get used to this - I was trying to work out who was interrupting. It is never quite clear - sometimes it is an observer (the Darkmans?) and sometimes it seems to be the character interrupting his or herself. The effect is to make it clear that some other is in charge here.
The theme (as far as I could discern) is Chance. In order to make this clear to the reader, Barker has rather didactic dialogue coming from characters who would be unlikely to speak in philosophical terms. This jarred. But it has a great ending.
There are passages of linguistic brilliance followed by moments of astonishing clunkiness (at which point you wonder whether she let her cat take over). But all of it congeals into a fantastic, addictive mess.
1.) The verve and panache with which the younger set of Barker's characters (i.e., Kelly and Kane) use the modern British idiom. It's truly spot on and delightful. Yank readers be prepared to look some words up, and don't get chuffy about it!
2.) The humour is blindingly funny. I'm thinking particularly of Kelly's - um - conversion to Christianity. What makes these scenes doubly grand, moreover, is however insane and wavering and comical it comes across. - And it DOES come across that way, Deo Laus. - This is actually the way most people I know find some sense of the numinous in their lives. Even the most orthodox believers seldom experience a road to Damascus experience settling everything for all time. It's filled with doubts and apprehensions and yes, comedy. In short, despite (or because of) the high comedy, Kelly's experience rings extraordinarily true to the psychological reality of belief. I was reminded of Nietzsche's comment that he could only believe in a God that could laugh.
3.) WORDS-Indo-European, werdh, Latin, verbum, Sanskrit, vratam command, law. The characters frequently come to the point of mental breakdown and aphasia through constant groping for the right words, especially when the history of the word occurs to them. A sample from Dory's Diary:
"(The whore playing the martyr? What a joke! What a travesty)...Travesty: trans - over + vestire - to dress. I still find myself using words which I can't understand." I might add that "trans" also means "across" in Latin - Crossdresser? The book is permeated with etymological breakdowns (in both senses) like this one. This is why I say Joyce is Barker's true master. Ever had a go at Finnegans Wake?
But, more importantly, these are the passages of the book (and they are legion) that struck home most piquantly to me. I know EXACTLY how these characters feel, and Barker, needless to say, does as well. They feel as if they are losing their hold on what connects them to other human beings, "the shareable part of experience" as it was once put to me by an Oxford don. They feel, in other words, like they are going insane. And the reader, at least this reader, whose head is crammed full of Latin and Ancient Greek, feels the slippage along with them. - As a personal example, I can't say how many times I've mulled over the word "nice" which comes from "nescire" in Latin, to be ignorant. Am I, in some fundamental way that I'm only half consciously aware of calling a person an ignoramus, a fool, an idiot when I say that s/he is "nice"? I have, in fact, had to expunge that particular word from my vocabulary because it troubles me so. For any reader who has reflected on how s/he communicates with others (or fail in some way to do so), these recurrent semantic breakdowns become eerie almost to the point of terror as they mount throughout the book.
But, as I say, I don't really know what this book is "about", if anything. The truth is....well, what Peta says near the end, "The truth is just a series of disparate ideas which briefly congeal and then slowly fall apart again..." p. 824. This is a very good description of what happens in the book as well. If there were just a tad more to it, I would give it five stars.
There is sometimes much to be admired about people who behave in a consistent manner. It does allow us to anticipate what they might do next. Here, we hope they might do some things in an inconsistent manner. However, since we have no idea about what's supposedly going on anyway, we also have no idea about what they might do differently that would make some progress in the matter at hand - the book.
What is staggeringly unbelievable about all of this is that while we are observing the (mainly) unlikeable characters doing things toward no imaginable end, we keep turning pages. Thus is demonstrated the force of hope (or the absence of any other way of occupying our time). After a while I was surprised to notice that I was starting to like too many of the characters.
Continuing in the same manner for months on end and pages the publisher no longer bothered to number, I reached the point where some more things happen that are either unexplained or unexplainable or both, but I knew that no matter what was going on it was fun to keep turning the pages - after all I had been turning them for about three years now without stopping, so something good must be going on. This unexplainable behavior on my part continued through the end of the book (I knew it was the end even though the words "The End" were not present because the next page was the blank inside of the back cover).
The most likeable characters were (for non-professional reasons) the hookers (non-professional because I'd already paid for the book not knowing about them and at the price of the book, I doubt there would be much professionalism applied had any of it gone to them). They, even when upright (though, due to medical reasons, one was usually found to be recumbent) displayed strange abilities to provide the comical elements to the whatever was taking place of a discernible plot.
But, before this review reaches the length of the book, I must try to put something into some form of order. The book is about people, coincidence (or some magical cause of stuff), their pasts more than their presents with virtually nothing about their futures. Their interactions, conversations (or whatever it was that sometimes passed for such), thoughts, dreams, and outright insanities demanded my continued reading. And, I will continue to read Barker.
Grab this one for the trip you'll take with some unique characters.