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Wide Open Hardcover – 1 Oct 1998


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W.W. Norton; First Edition edition (1 Oct. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880016329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880016322
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.6 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,394,427 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

Synopsis

A Londoner who makes a living spraying pesticides and his eccentric relatives and neighbors, including the son of a pedophile and the female head of a boar farm, follow their unglamorous, bitterly comic destinies in the English suburbs.

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Each day Ronny saw the same man waving. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
I almost want to give this book more crowns because Barker is such a gifted writer and her imagination is breath-taking, but I have never picked up a book before that I found so difficult to read. I tried so hard, I persevered right through until fifty pages from the end but then I gave up - one of those 'life's too short' moments. Maybe I'll try it again some other time, because there was so much that was good about this book, but I felt like a slithery fish reading it - every time Barker managed to hook me, the scenery would change and she'd lose me again.
If you like a more-than-challenging read, then this is the book for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Leyla Sanai on 7 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
Finished Wide Open yesterday and am left, as with most Nicola Barkers, feeling as if I have woken from a deliciously entertaining dream packed with unlikely scenarios and surreal twists.

We start off by meeting Ronny, a bloke who drives on the motorway every day for three weeks and spots a lanky guy waving from a bridge overlooking the road. One day, Ronny stops to find out what the guy wants. And straight away, within the first couple of pages, we're plunged into weird Barker territory, rich with coincidences and inexplicable events. Because it turns out the guy on the bridge and Ronny have a close acquaintance in common. Furthermore, the bridge man is also called Ronny and a number of other strange similarities also come to light.

Just as you're left wondering 'hold on a minute', the novel moves on to Sheppey. The two Ronnies are now friends, the bridge bloke has persuaded the other one to change his name to the bridge bloke's original name, thus setting the contrived scene for a case of mistaken identity.

Also in Sheppey are various quirky individuals. There's Lily, an angry, nightmare adolescent and her mother Sara, a boar farmer. There's fat Luke who, despite his fishy scent and rolls of flab, exerts a strange sexual attractiveness. Then there's Nathan, a gentle soul from Lost Property in Baker Street tube station, who's linked to several of the other characters and Connie, an angelic optician trying to enable execution of her late father's will.

As with most Barkers, the story is hugely funny and unexpected. The weirdo characters are involved in plenty of strange plot twists and, as in most Barkers, the dialogue is hilarious in parts.

But the total sum of the book is less than its constituent parts.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
I had a little trouble initially getting into this book, but grew to love it with each passing page. The multiple, intertwining story-telling is cleverly handled.
The repeating imagery of things (life, true living) as "wide open" was brilliant. There were also bit so Steinbeck in here too... the attention to detail. And there is certainly Shakespearean identity twists all over the place.
I loved the book and will read much more of Barker. It's definitely not for everyone, though anyone with a zany sense of humor or for the bizarre will really like it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By zernager on 5 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my favourite of this author's books and she one of my favourite authors. Nicola Barker writes these idiosyncratic characters so effortlessly and the way she slams their lives into each other's is really exciting to read. The humour in this book is laugh-out-loud funny but this is the one of her novels that takes on a very black subject. And it does so in an intriguing way that will stay with you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. E. Russnak on 19 May 2008
Format: Paperback
Once started, I could not put it down. It is not a book where you can find comfort in identifying with any of the characters. None of them are particularly likeable, but then that is not the point in this book. How am I to know the deeper inner reaches of the psyche of someone who's life experiences are so far removed from anything that most of us experience in our childhood? To explore this terrain, we have to leave the roadmap behind, this is uncharted territory.
Some of the descriptive narrative sometimes make me think that the author has some form of expanded consiousness, as I experience it in the healing field. Her descriptions of the energetic exchanges between some of the characters are so close to the images often described in the energetics, that I really think that this book is a fascinating tale and highly recommend it to all my friends.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By b on 23 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
Nicola Barker's third novel tells a strange tale set on the island of Sheppey and features wild boars, lost property, changing identities and a hunt for a mysterious ape. It is a novel full of the most amazing passages of sparky, brilliant, descriptive writing and unforgettable scenes infused with a sense of violence. Barker creates a galaxy of colourful characters with no toes or who smell like fish and who all seem to be engaged in strange quests with no real sense of direction and the end to the novel brings no real conclusion. I didn't enjoy this novel as much as others. I didn't learn to love the characters in the same way I enjoyed those in Reversed Forecast. At times, the movement between incidents and events seemed too random, just a bit too bizarre. However, I am looking forward to my next encounter with Barker's wonderfully, original world.
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