Barker herself once described this as a novel of "cornball perversion," and no one who reads it will ever dispute that. Filled with the weirdest group of gonzo characters ever assembled, it includes Ronny, a homeless man whose real name is Jim; Jim, a hairless man whose real name is Ronny and who works spraying weed killer along the roads; Luke, a photographer of pornography who smells like fish; and Lily, a violent and rebellious teenager who suffers from a clotting disorder and worships The Head. And if these characters were not already bizarre enough, Barker also opens the Pandora's box of their not-in-the-textbook psyches to the reader--showing them to be even more off-the-wall than we had ever dreamed.
Providing fertile ground for all the aberrations to flourish, the author sets the characters in a remote seaside resort/nudist colony during the off-season, with additional forays to a nearby boar farm, the Lost and Found Department of the London Underground, and a bat cave in Sumatra, where a character we know only from her letters is searching for a hairy hominid with no big toes. Obviously, not your granny's novel.
Wide Open is like nothing you've ever read before-absolutely original, sometimes wacky, sometimes poignant, sometimes violent, and always fascinating. The fluidity of Barker's prose keeps the reader zipping along, despite the fact that we can't always tell when she's putting us on, aren't always sure what's going on, and often suspect there are deep themes here if only we could catch our breaths long enough to figure them out. This is an absolutely exhilarating wild ride if the reader is willing to be "wide open." Mary Whipple