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Burley Cross Postbox Theft Hardcover – 29 Apr 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (29 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007355009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007355006
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.8 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 639,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nicola Barker's eight previous novels include 'Darkmans' (short-listed for the 2007 Booker and Ondaatje prizes, and winner of the Hawthornden), 'Wide Open' (winner of the 2000 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award) and 'Clear' (long-listed for the 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. Her latest novel, 'The Yips', was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012.

Product Description

Review

Reviews for Darkmans:

'This is the work of a very fine storyteller indeed.' The Times

'The writing is often hilarious. Barker carves up the suburban dinner party savagely, and anatomises the dodgiest builder on Earth…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.' Daily Telegraph

'A loud shout of glorious, untidy, angry, joyous life. 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.' Guardian

‘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.' Observer

'A visionary epic.' Sam Leith, in the Spectator 'Books of the Year'

'Darkmans is all about the ebullience of language, the erruption of the past into the present, the seriousness and darkness of jokes. It defies moderation because it celebrates misrule. Highly original and interesting, and doing it with conviction and sharp humour. I know I whipped through its more than 800 pages with attention unbroken. And I know that the very night I finished it, it showed up in my dreams. Seriously.' Literary Review

‘Barker's delightfully Skewed perspective on this world is laugh–out–loud funny' Marie Claire

‘Her creation is a mix of modern–day Cranford with the League of Gentlemen's Royston Vasey…If the reader is willing to suspend disbelief, however, they should find ample reward in Barker's wit and linguistic flair' Rosamund Urwin, Evening Standard

About the Author

Nicola Barker was born in Ely in 1966 and spent part of her childhood in South Africa. She lives and works in east London. She was the winner of the David Higham Prize for Fiction and joint winner of the Macmillan Silver Pen Award for Love Your Enemies, her first collection of stories (1993). Her first novel Reversed Forecast was published in 1994 and a short novel Small Holdings followed in 1995. A second collection of short stories Heading Inland, for which Nicola received an Arts Council Writers’ Award, and received the 1997 John Llewellyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday Prize. Her story ‘Symbiosis’ was filmed and broadcast on BBC2; another story, ‘Dual Balls’, was commissioned for broadcast on Channel 4 and shortlisted for a BAFTA Award. Her third novel Wide Open was published in 1998, and won the English-speaking world’s biggest literary award for a single work, the IMPAC Prize. In 2000 she published another short novel, Five Miles from Outer Hope. Her fifth novel, Behindlings, was published in 2002 and the following novel, Clear, was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2004. Darkmans, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2007, the 2008 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Award and won the Hawthornden Prize for 2008. Most recently, Barker's work THE YIPS has been longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2012. She was named as one of the 20 Best Young British Novelists by Granta in 2005. Her work has been translated into over a dozen languages.


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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. R. on 21 Mar 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Nicola Barker has written a book about letters, who stole them and how PC Roger Topping finds out. It's one of those novels whose story is told entirely in letters too. This one is different in that all the writers are incredibly irritating, daft, pompous, verbose, gossipy, selfish, opinionated, annoying and usually a combination of at least two of those. Barker impersonates these characters outstandingly well, defining their voices to a tee, so that you could be reading the real thing. The tone of each letter is crafted to perfection.
The problem is that in real life, you'd do anything to avoid reading these things. The policeman originally investigating the problem was driven to distraction by having to deal with this bunch of people and their missing correspondence. Barker's letters are written in the styles of irritating people, so they end up being intensely irritating themselves. Even the characters who are reasonably pleasant are too dim to write well; Barker impersonates them so closely that I found her own work intolerable to read. It's a fine piece of perfectly formed comedy caricature writing, and I hope that she produces something soon about people who aren't so god awful that you just don't care what happens to their stupid post box.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Simz on 30 Nov 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a great, great read. I dont normally do "funny" books but gave this a go and found it clever, hilarious, in parts moving, just perfection...

Great characters, very clever unfolding of interlinking stories and wonderful, fresh writing. The voices in the letters were so convinincing, I just didnt want it to end.

I'll be trying some more Nicola Barker very soon.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Quicksilver TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 April 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I thoroughly enjoyed Nicola Barker's previous novel Darkmans, an epic tale of old lore and crumbling society. I found 'Darkmans' hard going at first, and nearly put it down, but ultimately found it to be an excellent read. From the description of 'Burley Cross Postbox Theft', I was expecting something altogether more accessible. I was disappointed - this is a novel that requires an amount of effort from the reader before delivering its considerable rewards.

The novel's premise is a simple one. A village postbox as been broken into and its contents stolen. The letters are later found, and a police investigation into the theft begins. This is an epistolary novel, that opens with the a letter from one PC to another, detailing the case and its lack of resolution. There then follows the letters that were stolen from inside the postbox.

The biggest problems with this novel are the first two letters. They are long, rambling and written by two very annoying characters. I found that they both became tedious very quickly. This inauspicious opening, dampened my enthusiasm for what I'd hoped would be an amusing read. More generally, the letters, though cleverly written, nearly all felt like literary exercises, rather than letters real people would write. Also, the inhabitants of Burley Cross are all so strange and idiosyncratic, they became lumped together in my mind as a large strange and amorphous blob - I struggled to remember who was who. About one third of the way in, I was sorely tempted to abandon the novel entirely.

My love of 'Darkmans' generated some loyalty. I pushed on and am glad that I did.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roger Risborough on 18 Mar 2014
Format: Paperback
Perhaps my title is a bit unfair, because what is most conspicuously missing in this book is 'editing' rather than writing talent. Having said that, the author is jointly culpable in allowing the book to ramble-on WAY beyond the natural length that the central premise can actually sustain. The premise is that the local post box in Burley Cross in rural Yorkshire has been broken into just before Christmas, and slowly the local plod (literally), tries to piece together "whodunnit" from the mind-numbing detail of the (no-less-than) 26 recovered letters that act as our evidence/witness statements. So it is like a (Burley) cross between Midsomer Murders and Royston Vasey, but as the crimes involved here don't amount to much more that a little theft, philandering, blackmail and a few sexual proclivities this is more like Midsomer Misdemeanours, but even Inspector Barnaby would realise that presenting the public with 26 suspects/witnesses would kill-off even the most avid crime-fan's enthusiasm. Mine was dead after the first couple of letters and the dawning realisation of what the book's leaden structure (just the 26 letters with a short preamble and a dreary denouement) actually was (the author had cleverly omitted to include a contents list). So if sustainability (of plot) is the first big problem - the second is credibility - people don't write letters like this anymore (if they ever did - these average well over 10 pages of small type each) and hopefully, no one will write a book like this ever again.
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By Brian Hamilton TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 April 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
On ocassion this book had me tearing my hair out in frustration. Other times I could not put it down.

The concept is intriguing, the theft of a post box from a village that appears, on the surface, to be a template for English manners and reserve.

However, we are given the contents of postbox to digest.

Each letter printed deals with various aspects of village life and there are some laugh out loud moments.

However, the author scores an own goal of sorts as some of the letters are so long winded (and with footnotes) that it seemed to run out of steam. When the letters themselves apologise for being so long and tangent-wandering it is difficult to retain a sense of enthusiasm.

That said, there is some gold in here and it is worth a read just to get a feel for the characters and atmosphere, most of which is of a very good standard.

Hard going in places but worth the effort.
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