Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Yips

Nicola Barker
The Yips

Fourth Estate, 2012

«The Yips» is a strange book, which is hardly novel, but not a play either. Most of the text consists of dialogues, which actually describes the entire novel’s action. Between dialogs there isn’t any action, and the so-called space between the dialogues there is not too much. Heroes meet and discuss what happened to them in the past. Heroes are the main driving force of the novel, they are the clay from which the novel is built. The plot here rather is that adorns basis, minor detail.

At the heart of the book is a professional golfer Stuart Ransom. From his former glory remains a little, personal Ransom’s life tarnished his career. He has a wife and daughter, but he rarely sees them. In Scotland, Ransom is together with his manager Esther, a pregnant woman of Jamaican origin, which not very fluently speaks English. At the beginning of the novel Ransom is sitting at the bar in a provincial hotel, drinks and tells bartenders stories about golf and more. His mouth never closes. Bar is empty, and so he tells his stories only to girl-bartender Jen and her assistant Gene, who works in a bar part-time. Jen has recognized Ransom, and Gene has not.

Each of the characters in this book is so strange that the book is read not as something realistic, but rather as an urban fantasy. It is indeed a strange world, a wild story, overheard at the bar. And the whole story starts in the bar. Bar is a place to talk, and «The Yips» consists almost entirely of dialogue.

These dialogues are more than real, if that happens, but these are not bar or the market chatter, these are full, catchy in their reliability dialogues between living people. Once the book on 90 percent of the dialogue, faking the human speech would be fatal, the novel would have simply collapsed. From the speech of the characters we know who they are, know what they did. Silence is golden, but if nobody said anything, we would not have seen this wonderful novel.

«The Yips» does not spare the reader: Nicola Barker explains very little and certainly nothing brings on a platter. The first hundred pages, and even more, we have to read with eyes almost closed: from the situation is not clear on 70 percent. Gradually, from the subsequent dialog, we take out the information about the characters. This novel is complex but not overcomplex, requiring patience and the work of the mind.

The place of the novel is Scotland of 2006, but you feel like you are on Mars. Few can achieve the same effect.

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