Riddley Walker (Picador Books)

by Russell Hoban | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0330266454 Global Overview for this book
Registered by MoonDark of York, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on 1/7/2006
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7 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by MoonDark from York, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Saturday, January 07, 2006
This is a quite remarkable book. First off it's written entirely in an invented dialect. It's post-apocalyptic, and hugely so - the nuclear disaster is so far back in the past that it has become mythological (and well-garbled in the process). Humankind are living at an Iron Age subsistence level. A rudimentary combination of belief system and government exists, and Riddley Walker, aged 12, is a 'connexions man' charged with the interpretation of the travelling puppet shows which tell the stories of how mankind got to this state. However, Riddley can glimpse what has been lost -

"[..] I begun to get some idear of the shyning of the Littl Man. Tears begun streaming down my face and my froat akit.... How cud any 1 not want to get that shyning Power back from time back way back? How cud any 1 not want to be like them what had boats in the air and picters on the wind? How cud any 1 not want to see them shyning weals terning?"

and this will lead him on a dangerous quest and an examination of the nature of progress and the "confused collective dream that humanity terms 'history'." (Will Self, in the Introduction to the 20th Anniversary Edition.)

I won't kid you that it's easy to read, because it's not; Riddley's dialect takes some getting used to (you get the idea from the quote above), and occasionally it pays to read out loud to grasp the meaning, but I found after a few chapters I was reasonably fluent. But far from detracting from the book, I think it adds all the more to it. It makes you slow down and savour the fractured writing, the multiple meanings and the wordplay, and the story seems to lodge itself in your head in a surprisingly persistent way - I find myself thinking about it frequently, and occasionally Riddleyspeaking too.

Serendipity: I was given it as a gift, loved it, and decided I must buy a copy to release - when I got around to it. Two days later I popped into my favourite charity shop for a quick flick through the books, and there, in amongst all the second-hand chick-lit and John Grisham thrillers, was this copy of Riddley Walker! It was obviously there for me to buy and share, so I did. :o)

Trubba Not.


Journal Entry 2 by MoonDark at Judges Lodgings in York, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Released 13 yrs ago (3/28/2006 UTC) at Judges Lodgings in York, North Yorkshire United Kingdom

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I'm releasing this at the monthly meet rather than leave it to the mercies of a wild-release!

Journal Entry 3 by Mai-day from Leeds, West Yorkshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Sounds intriguing. I'll give it a go.

Journal Entry 4 by Mai-day from Leeds, West Yorkshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I actually finished this a week or so ago, but I've been digesting it and wondering exactly what to write about it. Moondark's entry is certainly a really good summary of it, but you really have to read it to get everything out of it. It is unlike anything I've ever read before. Although it is only a thin book it took me quite a while to read as the language meant I had to concentrate hard, often re-reading whole pages to get the gist of the meaning. I was a real exercise in trust, as there are whole sections which I couldn't follow at all, but then I'd pick up a thread again.

The language is beautiful to read, with a wonderful rhythm and creativity. It was particularly interesting how Hoban played with words with different meanings, and the idea that though the characters lived an iron age existence in relation to technology and how they lived day to day, they retained a far more sophisticated approach to language, with some of them even retaining (relearning) the ability to write.

My overall impression of the book - well as with many distopian stories it was bleak and depressing in parts, but fascinatingly rendered and really touching at times too. I'd certainly recommend it, but selectively as I realise it won’t be everyone's cup of tea.

I'll release it next week at the Leeds Oct meetup.

Journal Entry 5 by DYI-991976 on Wednesday, October 11, 2006
{icked up at the meet last night. :)

Journal Entry 6 by gaelpixie from Leeds, West Yorkshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Picked up at Leeds Meetup.

Journal Entry 7 by gaelpixie from Leeds, West Yorkshire United Kingdom on Thursday, May 31, 2007
After reading Hoban's The Bat Tattoo, and hearing good things about Riddley Walker, I had high hopes for this book. I wasn't disappointed - it was an interesting & absorbing read.

The story is set in Kent, a few centuries into the future, among the survivors of a terrible war. Reading & writing skills are treasured by a select few, but for the most part stories & histories are oral, shared, embroidered, evolving as new mythologies. The narrative is written phonetically by Riddley, in his own dialect. And that works very well - just like in Trainspotting where you hear the voice in your head. He tells of his society, rife with inequality and superstitions, and refers in passing to the history and events that have led to his situation.

Russell Hoban has an amazing imagination, and a gift for sharing it.


Journal Entry 8 by Phedredelauney from Leeds, West Yorkshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I wasn't at all convinced by the blurb but Gael convinced me that it might be worth a try and the comments on this book look very positive.

Journal Entry 9 by Phedredelauney from Leeds, West Yorkshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, January 08, 2008
It took me a while to get going with this book as I needed to get my head round the language used in it but once I did I really enjoyed it. I've been meaning to bring it back for a while but it got buried under a pile of other things on my desk.

To be released at the Leeds Meetup tonight.

Journal Entry 10 by stoatonstilts on Thursday, January 10, 2008
Picked this up at the Adelphi. Looks interesting if I can master the language!

Journal Entry 11 by stoatonstilts on Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Could't really get on with this book. Tried to master Hoban's view of a post-apocalypse world but the struggle to master his newly-coined language wasn't justified by my interest in the plot. In the end, I just gave up!

Journal Entry 12 by stoatonstilts at Camel & Artichoke in Waterloo, Greater London United Kingdom on Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Released 10 yrs ago (10/14/2008 UTC) at Camel & Artichoke in Waterloo, Greater London United Kingdom

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Taking this to tonight's Meet-Up

Journal Entry 13 by Jinglefish from Woking, Surrey United Kingdom on Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I picked this up at the meetup yesterday evening as the cover grabbed my attention and hesitated a little upon further investigation as the dialect lookedhard. Then I thought a little and decided that if I don't have a go then I'll never know if I miss a gem (I was thinking back to Clockwork Orange at this point which I held off reading for sooo long for the same reason!). I too have also read the Bat Tattoo which I thoroughly enjoyed so this swung my decision. Watch this space:-)

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