Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Darkmans: Nicola Barker

So (because we've got to start somewhere) who exactly is Antony Shilling- the surgeon who provides Kane Beede with the prescription drugs he deals in- and what are his not entirely mercenary motives?  Clearly he's part of the larger pattern of the book (he's named in the second sentence) but the pattern is huge and spills out beyond the covers- and there are parts we never access and Shilling is one of them. Or perhaps there isn't a pattern at all. Perhaps the patterns we see in life are our own invention-  evidence not of divine providence but human art. Then what about the "darkmans" of the title? What does that word mean anyway? What is its etymology? And how does a fifteenth century court jester come to be overshadowing a bunch of messed-up modern persons in the messed-up gateway city of Ashford, Kent? Is he a god? A peacock god perhaps, as worshiped by the ancestors of Gaffar the Kurdish chancer Kane takes under his wing- a ludic god, both comical and cruel...

Ach, I adore this book.
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