The Gooseboy

A. L. Barker
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ISBN 9780571259113 Format Paperback
Published 21/01/2010 Length 158 pages

About Book

First published in 1987, The Gooseboy is a tale that is both elegant and grotesque, funny and appalling. Doug and Dulcie Bysshe are twins. Doug - or Bysshe - is now a successful film star living in the south of France and contemplating a new part as a saintly doctor in an African leper colony. Dulcie, busy and energetic, is fighting to retrieve her husband, the mournful and ineffective Pike, who has absconded to Nice with the adolescent Cherrimay Pugh. At the centre of events, is the Gooseboy, a creature with a double face, half faun, half deformed horror...

The Gooseboy questions the relations between flesh and spirit, the ridiculous and the terrible. A. L. Barker watches shrewdly and judges from a distance, her pithy and particular prose shining through.

'She writes with a precision and an economy of words which had me gasping.' Auberon Waugh

  • About A. L. Barker

    A. L. Barker (1918-2002) was a short story writer and novelist. Born in St Paul's Cray, Kent, she lived in the same milieu where London borders on Kent and Surrey, for the rest of her life. As her Oxford DNB entry says it was 'the chief setting for her work, which often seemed to partake of the quotidian mysteriousness and even abandonment of these areas.'

    Her first selection of short stories, Innocents, won the Somerset Maugham award in 1947. Of her short stories, Robert Nye has written, 'stories as carefully composed as poems, quiet and delicate and reserved perhaps, but oddly lingering in the mind.'

    Although a stranger to commercial success, she never wanted for admirers, Jane Gardam, Francis King, Auberon Waugh, Evelyn Waugh, Rebecca West, John Sutherland, Deborah Moggach, Ronald Blythe, Susan Hill, A. S. Byatt, Adam Mars-Jones, Nina Bawden and Victoria Glendinning being just some of them.

    A. L. Barker deserves to be better known. Faber Finds is proud to be reissuing her entire oeuvre, six volumes of short stories - Innocents, Novelette with Other Stories, Femina Real, Life Stories, No Words of Love and Element of Doubt - and thirteen novels - Apology for a Hero, A Case Examined, The Joy-Ride and After, Lost Upon the Roundabouts, The Middling, John Brown's Body, Source of Embarrassment, A Heavy Feather, Relative Successes, The Gooseboy, The Woman Who Talked to Herself, Zeph and The Haunt.

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