The Yips by Nicola Barker


This was an erudite, sprawling book that has the sweep of Dickens to it with an assorted cast of the ridiculous and the grotesque with a clear awareness of self-deception and the clumsiness of human nature attached to it. It is not the most consistent book, but I enjoyed it and weathered through some of the slightly laboured sections because there are moments of absolutely sublime description and emotion. The third act is a revelation in terms of moving the characters to moments of personal enlightenment. It’s not an easy book, and it was challenging to work through in places. I’m reminded of the work of Alan Bennett in the wry touches and the attention to detail but overall it was a book to admire rather than love.  It is at points achingly beautiful to read, a sexual encounter is given the pitch of revelation without being overly explicit.

It was a good book, worthy and interesting. It was a touch removed, coming alive in sections but those sections kept you going through the sections that lurched into clumsy parody. It aspires to a warmth, but it felt like it traded the potential warmth for a slightly affected oddness. She seems to understand the grotesque within certain aspects of english culture.  It is all at the same pitch, like a first date where the other person just screams throughout the meal, even though they’re smart and attractive.  As I’ve said I admire it but don’t like it.


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