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The Yips: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Nicola Barker
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Man Booker Prize–nominated novel by one of the most original authors of our time
Storm clouds are gathering above the bar of the less-than-exclusive Thistle Hotel. Stuart Ransom, a jet-setting, supermodel-chasing pro golfer with an extravagant ego and a career nearing the end of a spectacular decline, is drinking his way through the night. Desperate for attention, he strikes up free-flowing conversations with anyone who will listen. But as he banters with Jen, the impish barmaid with a talent for telling tall tales rivaled only by Stuart’s own, the night takes an extraordinary turn.
Among those caught up in the unfolding drama are a tattooist with a mad mother and a love of anything from the 1940s; a free-thinking Muslim sex therapist and his considerably more conservative wife; the mysterious Vicki, the sister of Stuart’s defiant yet curiously devoted manager; and a misguided female vicar of the Church of England and her husband, Gene, the Thistle’s hapless bartender.
They are a highly entertaining and eccentric bunch, but there’s more to them than meets the eye. “There enter in questions of what it is to be consumed by love or lust, by shame, by the longing to be someone else or nobody” (The Guardian), and The Yips unites them in an absorbing, exhilarating tour de force.

Editorial Reviews


“[D]ementedly imaginative . . . stomach-turningly hilarious . . .  What she has written is a state of the nation novel of the sort Dickens and Hogarth might have jointly conjured up had they ever visited Luton.” —Financial Times

“There are moments when Stuart Ransom has the vulgar bravura of John Self in Martin Amis's Money. And occasionally, the novel also reminds one of Hilary Mantel – a comparable master of dark comedy. But Barker is unique and it is for the pleasures of her style that one reads her.” –The Observer (London)

“She is scatological, mischievous, subversive and original. Barker’s transfiguration of the commonplace is radically unlike Muriel Spark’s, but no less dazzling.” —The Times (London)

“Barker captures—and lovingly distorts—both the rhythms and banality of language. She is, as it were, Harold Pinter on crack.” —The Spectator

About the Author

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 2004). She has also written two prize-winning collections of short stories, and her work has been translated into more than twenty languages. She lives in East London.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2013 KB
  • Print Length: 561 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (October 16, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0097LTZSG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #368,603 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Harbinger of Luton! August 19, 2012
There are many characters that weave their way through this very successful novel, but the novel starts and ends with what are arguably the central two characters: Ransom and Jen. Ranson is an over-the-hill professional golfer with a drinking, money, health and every other problem imaginable. Jen is maybe 19, living at home with her parents having spectacularly failed all of her A-levels despite a prodigious intelligence. Both are very, very mouthy, and in my opinion completely obnoxious. The book start with a verbal duel between the two that simply goes on and on. Well written, very witty, Jen puts down golf, Ranson puts down everything else on earth, back and forth ad nauseum with a third character, Gene, trying to moderate, smooth things over. And over 500 pages later the same dialog, same two characters, but with a novel in between of events that change the tenor of the conversation and their relationship. But I still couldn't stand either one of them, and despite this, I think this is a very powerful and successful novel.

Every character in this book struggles with the difference between the self they have carefully constructed to show the world, and their real self. I know, that is hardly an original concept, but this dichotomy viscerally presents itself over and over again in a wide spectrum of guises and a fairly remarkably wide spectrum of characters. People hide under tattoos, agoraphobia, burkas, clerical collars, insanity, alcohol and big aggressive mouths (Ransom and Jen again). These personality traits, or convictions, or diseases or whatever are very convincingly, almost seductively, described. Valentine has not left the house in almost a year and her mental health is not improved locked into the house with her deranged mother.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel that is both truth and prism December 28, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The word "yips" is defined in my Merriam-Webster's as - a state of nervous tension affecting an athlete (as a golfer) in the performance of a crucial action <had a bad case of the ~ on short putts> - and it is in this state of nervous tension that author Nicola Barker offers us a hyperactive view of reality through the over-the-top characters she places in over-the-top situations of contemporary society.

Barker's exaggerated perspective is sharp and keen. She blends realism with a healthy dose of the bizarre to catalyze cathartic reactions in characters who commune so plausibly with the chaos of our present day and age, that we just can't help but feel empathy for them, perhaps even identify with them.

THE YIPS is therefore both truth and prism, an astute examination exposing the soft underbellies of a motley crew of players whose lives intersect, entangle, fray or connect in kaleidoscopic ways. It can also be a lens for examining ourselves if we look deep enough.

At the surface THE YIPS is rapid and witty, sometimes biting, often cruel repartee that smartly delineates its full-spectrum characters. Between the lines it is the echo of the common dysfunctions fostered by modern society that we all can easily recognize. Beneath it all, with the promise of chasing society's demons away, is warmth, respect and dignity for the intrepid individual.

Barker keeps a distinctive authorial distance by allowing her eccentric but endearing characters to narrate their own uniquely entertaining stories themselves.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly bizarre November 10, 2012
By Ausms1
Format:Kindle Edition
This book is bizarre in a great way. It was so unpredictable, I was laughing and shocked all at the same time. Being on the short-list for the Booker prize, it sparked my interest but I almost dismissed because of my low interest in golf or reading about sport in general.
The golf component is really background, the characters interact in the most unexpected ways - tattoos, burkas, pot, palm reading, sexual attractions, sex therapy, cancer, agoraphobia, money, revenge, pregnancy just to name a few. This was such an amazing read and you wont be disappointed provided you aren't expecting to read about golf.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars pretty hard slog June 17, 2013
The blurbs on this book, which I bought in a bookstore in England, compared it to Chaucer, Shakespeare and Tolstoy no less! So I curled up with considerable anticipation. Unfortunately, I just could not get interested in the doings of this group of fairly unsympathetic characters in the provincial town of Luton. The main character, a dreadful failed golfer, was funny is a kind of Ricky Gervais way, mainly because he was so politically incorrect and uninhibitedly gross. But he soon grew tired.

As for the others, we meet a shy bar tender who has survived numerous bouts of cancer, his wife who is a fairly militant priest, a mixed-up young woman trying to look after her dreadful, demented mother and who converts to Islam, a barmaid who plays dumb but seems smart and various and sundry others -- all of whom seem to represent "types" in a kind of Chaucerian way. Their interactions are supposed to be tragicomic but most of the humor seemed to go right by me, Maybe I've been away from Britain for too long and have lost touch with the culture....

I noticed this took when I read Martin Amis' Lionel Asbo: State of England (Vintage International) which I did not much enjoy. He's talking about his vision of country that has abandoned its history and traditions in favor of a kind of faux pop-celebrity culture. That book is more savage than this one but there's a common strand.

Anyway, addressing this review specifically for American readers, I think you need to be quite absorbed in some of the political and cultural disputes and battles roiling Britain right now to make much sense of this. You also have to be prepared to wade through 500 pages plus.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It did not hold my interest.
Published 7 days ago by Sandra Fisher
1.0 out of 5 stars Didn't get it, couldn't read it.
Didn't get it ,couldn't read it.
Published 1 month ago by Ciaran Corrigan
1.0 out of 5 stars UGH!
What plot? Very uninteresting ramble about. Could not finish reading it.
Published 2 months ago by Paul M. Miller
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing And Challenging
There is little doubt that this book does present more than its fair share of problems for the American reader. Read more
Published 6 months ago by propertius
2.0 out of 5 stars This book was horrible.
Can't actually believe that this book won a Booker Prize. I was anticipating a good read, but this book was awful. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Courtney
5.0 out of 5 stars Humorous and enjoyable
The Yips is a brilliantly written tale of chance and fate colliding, in Nicola Barkers trademark witty prose. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Clare Rae
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, not at this time
I believe that we love books when they have come to us at the right time. I've tried several times to read this book, and find the style of narrative, which I think is supposed to... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Free Press Advocate
5.0 out of 5 stars The book for winter
Hard to hold on to the trippy and have a separate life. An explosion, histrionic but reach-out group surrounded by pitch forks of love, lightening and selves
Published 20 months ago by SoloWry
2.0 out of 5 stars The Yips gave me the Shits
What's the big deal? Can't believe the stuff that got onto the Booker list last year. Don't bother with it even if you're a keen golfer!
Published 21 months ago by S Sills
1.0 out of 5 stars bizzare
It seemed to have no point. I obviously missed something. I did not finish the book-boring. Maybe you can find some redeeming qualities.
Published 21 months ago by Robert S. Claxton
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