Thursday, January 27, 2005

Title: The Behindlings
Author: Nicola Barker
Publisher: Ecco

The Behindlings is a curious novel, something of an over written non-event in some ways from Nicola Barker, selected as one of Granta's top young British novelists the year this was published. As a narrative The Behindlings doesn't really provide a start or an ending. Rather it arrives in the current events of the Behindlings and follows them for a couple of

On the surface level the Behindlings is about Wesley. Wesley is an anti-star
in some ways, rejecting modern culture to live on the land and by his own
rules. A notorious prankster, his run ins with the law have created a reputation for him. This has led to him gaining a fan base, people following him like he is something special, some kind of leader of people. With contempt Wesley refers to these followers as the Behindlings, though it is a title they embrace, even calling the site which they use to coordinate the following www.thebehindlings.co.uk.

Within the context of this novel though the Behindlings could more accurately be described as being about the village of Canvey, where the events of this period take place. Or it could be described as being about the people that follow, the people that become involved and the things that motivate them and have gone into making them who they are now. Wesley had a book published about his travels a couple of years ago, in which he repeated a piece of local gossip found in the village of Canvey. Now he returns to reek havoc once more.

By degrees, like the new novel, Clear, which follows the stunt by David Blaine in London, recently released by Barker, The Behindlings is about celebrity and the cult that surrounds that. The ups and downs of what people are looking for from famous and how those that receive that focus either embrace or abuse that ideal. The weekend followers versus the full time followers, and how it all fits together.

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