The Yips

Nicola Barker

First Sentence:     Stuart Ransom, professional golfer, is drunkenly reeling off an interminable series of stats about the women’s game in Korea (or the Ladies Game, as he is determined to have it): ‘Don’t scowl at me, beautiful…!’ – directed, with his trademark Yorkshire twinkle, at Jen, who lounges, sullenly, behind the hotel bar.

Back of the book:

2006 is a foreign country; they do things differently there. Tiger Woods’s reputation is entirely untarnished and the English Defense League does not yet exist. Storm clouds of a different kind are gathering above the bar of Luton’s less than exclusive Thistle Hotel. Among those caught up in the unfolding drama are a man who’s had cancer seven times, a woman priest with an unruly fringe, the troubled family of a notorious local fascist, an interfering barmaid with three E’s at A-level but a PhD in bullshit, and a free-thinking Muslim sex therapist with his considerably more pious wife. But at the centre of every intrigue and the bottom of every mystery is the repugnantly charismatic figure of Stuart Ransom – a golfer in free-fall.

Nicola Barker’s The Yips is at once an historical novel of the pre-Twitter moment and the most flamboyant piece of comic fiction ever to be set in Luton.

Quotes from the book:

Her mother gazes at Valentine in much the same way a slightly tipsy shepherd might gaze at the eviscerated corpse of a stray sheep on a neighbouring farmer’s land (a gentle, watercolour wash of concern, querulousness and supreme indifference).

“Even the word is ridiculous – like a cat vomiting up a giant hair-ball: GOLLUFF!

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Last Sentence:     Ransom remains where he is for a few seconds longer (deeply offended), then swears under his breath, shakes his head, picks up the bugle case (wincing slightly as he straightens up), inhales deeply, winces again, embraces the pain (C’mon! Embrace the pain you old fool! Embrace it!) and rapidly strikes out after her.