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Old 2nd Mar 2008, 16:38   #11
kirsty
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Default Re: Book 51: CLEAR by Nicola Barker

I do want to read it. I just, er, haven't yet.

I enjoyed Darkmans, and am keen to read more Barker. Will get on with it!
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Old 2nd Mar 2008, 21:45   #12
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Default Re: Book 51: CLEAR by Nicola Barker

Oh dear, I'm all of a muddle, I've read Anil's Ghost by mistake! I'll hold those thoughts for a month.
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Old 2nd Mar 2008, 22:25   #13
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Default Re: Book 51: CLEAR by Nicola Barker

Is that next? I'd better hoof it to the library and order it.
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 8:28   #14
ono no komachi
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Default Re: Book 51: CLEAR by Nicola Barker

I started off hating it, but ended up enjoying it considerably; I think that was at least partially a style thing (all those italics) which took some getting used to.

It kept me engaged as a story, and I chime with Col's 'easy to read and laugh-out-loud' in places. I think the 'kitten heels' thing was consistent with the character, who also recognises chair designers (although he gets it wrong in the relevant instance).

I've been trying to work out whether I enjoyed all the popular culture references, or whether they simply made me think 'These will be meaningless in twenty years' time' (but maybe that's part of the point).

I found the Shane thing interesting, but I definitely haven't worked out what it 'means' (if anything).

I'm sure there's more to say on this, but these are just some trivial early-morning thoughts.

If anyone wants to borrow my copy, they're very welcome, just let me know your postal address via PM.
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 8:51   #15
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Default Re: Book 51: CLEAR by Nicola Barker

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Originally Posted by dovegreyreader View Post
Oh dear, I'm all of a muddle, I've read Anil's Ghost by mistake! I'll hold those thoughts for a month.
Now that one I will definitely read. I think everything shifted to support the Moore-athon so we are a month behind (in a way).
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 9:04   #16
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Default Re: Book 51: CLEAR by Nicola Barker

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Originally Posted by ono no komachi View Post
I started off hating it, but ended up enjoying it considerably; I think that was at least partially a style thing (all those italics) which took some getting used to.

It kept me engaged as a story, and I chime with Col's 'easy to read and laugh-out-loud' in places. I think the 'kitten heels' thing was consistent with the character, who also recognises chair designers (although he gets it wrong in the relevant instance).

I've been trying to work out whether I enjoyed all the popular culture references, or whether they simply made me think 'These will be meaningless in twenty years' time' (but maybe that's part of the point).

I found the Shane thing interesting, but I definitely haven't worked out what it 'means' (if anything).
I can just remember the film of Shane (a tearjerker at the end, I recall), but I am totally with you on not understanding whether it has any relevance. What was said about Darkmans seemed to suggest that 'randomness' is part of Barker's style, and that people don't need to 'connect' the dots, or if they do, it reveals something about them (like Blaine's stunt holding the mirror up to nature, as a modern work of art).

I too started off really disliking the quirkiness of it all. Rarely has a book left me so confused about my response to it: I'm not sure if my first response might not have been the correct one because I perhaps felt consciously manipulated into finding it an entertaining if somewhat meaningless read.
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 10:17   #17
Ang
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Default Re: Book 51: CLEAR by Nicola Barker

Perhaps Barker attempts to be "random" in the current teenage sense of the word. If it has any real meaning, I haven't figured it out yet, which sounds very much what the book has to offer!
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 10:40   #18
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Default Re: Book 51: CLEAR by Nicola Barker

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Heh, no pressure then ladies!
My copy is languishing in a box in the spare room. I initially attempted Clear when it was Booker longlisted, and hated it. But then I read Darkmans and loved that... I'm on long train journeys on Tuesday and Thursday, so I'll stuff it in my bag and we'll see what happens.
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Old 4th Mar 2008, 10:47   #19
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Default Re: Book 51: CLEAR by Nicola Barker

I wonder if the fact that is less resonant is partly because it's loosely about a current event? If the main purpose of readers is to "lose themselves" in a book, it makes it harder when you're constantly jerked out of that zone by the fact that the book is - partly at least - about a real event.

After all, all of what I've read of Barker is pretty "random", doesn't follow a recognised plot arc and is more about the beauty of her thoughts and language on any given page than anything else - and in that Clear is no different from Outer Hope, say... but it's clearly thought of as a less successful novel.

I suspect this theory will not pass close examination, but I thought I'd give it a punt...
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Old 4th Mar 2008, 11:08   #20
Colyngbourne
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Default Re: Book 51: CLEAR by Nicola Barker

I'm not sure if it affected me because it was a fairly recent actual event. Thinking some more about this, (and aware I've not read the book in question), if Darkmans is 'about' the randomness and essential non-connectedness of history, that is just another existential canvas she is inviting the reader to daub on [excuse the bad sentence ending ]. In Clear, it is the randomness and meaninglessness or attributed meaning of art, and in Darkmans, history. Beyond that, the book is, as you say, "about the beauty of her thoughts and language on any given page". And rather than that being enough in itself or appealing, I can see it's clever but it leaves me cold and irritated, rather than affectionate.
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