Pond Theft

Peter Robins

  • Behindlings by Nicola Barker
    Flamingo, 535 pp, £10.99, February 2002, ISBN 0 00 713525 4

Nicola Barker usually stages her plots in suburbs or on islands. Behindlings is set on Canvey, a suburban island. The protagonist, Wesley, is either the leader or the target of what may or may not be a cult, depending on how you read things. He sleeps rough, eats gulls, makes his own shaving foam, and is pursued by between two and a dozen stalkers, whom he calls the Behindlings. They are people whose lives Wesley has rearranged, whose partners he has slept with, whose children have died stalking him, or whose childhoods were destroyed by a rumour he has carelessly circulated. It’s not clear if they want to catch him or not, or if he truly wishes to escape them. What matters is the entanglement, and the pursuit.

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