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Darkmans Paperback – November 27, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
I can't do justice to Barker's enormous achievement here. Her great theme is the way the past seeps into the present, the ways we betray our ancestors and also, inevitably, stumble up against them. Ghosts of the past, both recent and ancient, haunt her characters in vivid and bizarre ways. (One character, in a trance, digs for a petrified forest that has sunk below the tide; characters blurt out etymologies like ums and ers.) Her rich sense of history pervades the novel, but "Darkmans" also feels utterly contemporary with its unique form and propulsive prose. You will whip through these 848 pages, breaking only for laughter.
Don't miss this one!
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.Read more ›
The cast of characters comprise of Daniel Beede, his drug dealing son Kane, his endlessly profane ex-girlfriend Kelly and Gaffar, a Kurdish repairman who, after a fight with Kane over the seriousness of Kelly's injuries (she broke her leg falling off a wall), comes to work for him as a courier and also befriends Beede who, of course, shares a house with the son he barely talks to.
Beede's life is one shaped by things of the past -as most lives are, but seems to be haunted by the theft of some antique tiles, and has also embarked on a mysterious project with the forger named Peta Borough that seems to involve strange duplications and research into John Scogin, jester in the court of Edward IV.
Then there is the matter of Fleet, son of Elen and Dory, an eerily gifted and strangely prescient boy who builds a model of the Cathedral of Saint-Cecile with matchsticks. To the growing alarm of Elen and Dory (who seems to suffer from a mental illness somewhere between narcolepsy and schizophrenia), Fleet knows impossible amounts of information about the same John Scogin that Beede is researching. And during Dory's hazy episodes, Fleet calls his father "John".
There isn't much plot, but it does feature an incentive style prose, underlined with some very funny elements -like the fact that everyone appears to know a crap load of miscellaneous information on a wide variety of subjects.
Its an unusual novel to say the least, yet one that I could not put down.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Darkmans reels in readers with memorable characters and coarse wit, but what keeps us going is a heady combination of history bewitching modern folks and a collision of tenderness... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Peter H. Burris
as they like to say (and think) in this book: eh?
the journey is the destination here: while said story doesn't lead to much, it... Read more
Quirky. This is an intriguing book with enough of interest occurring to keep you reading. There is a strange, trickster force (Darkmans) possessing various of the characters at... Read morePublished 18 months ago by HelenNZ
I have to congratulate Ms Barker for doing what many of her peers seem to not be able to do. That is: to write a novel about odd people and happenings, without the oddness seeming... Read morePublished on July 22, 2013 by ReasonableGoatPerson
Darkmans is at once infuriating, baffling and funny. Its characters zoom out not so much from the margins of society but rather from the cracks in time and space that dwell in that... Read morePublished on October 13, 2012 by Distoviolin
This is a book filled with (mainly) unlikeable characters doing very normal things in strange ways that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Read morePublished on August 20, 2012 by Tanstaafl
I was three-fourths of the way through Darkmans when I picked it up again this morning to carry on what I had started. Read morePublished on January 15, 2012 by aliennnseekeR
i don't see how anyone could not love this book, unless, of course, they are uptight and incapable of accepting a thing for what it is if it isn't what they'd expect (even if it's... Read morePublished on August 26, 2011 by david w pasquinelli
Just like a previous reviewer I brought this behemoth along on a trip, since the amount of pages would last the entire journey. Read morePublished on December 18, 2010 by Satori