Saturday, 26 January 2013

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

It was either my skirt as the background or the lime green train seat - the skirt won.

"Next morning when I 1st come a wake I wer 1/2 thinking may be it ben a dream. Like when some thing harbel happens in a dream then you wake up and it aint nothing only a dream what a releaf"

It would certainly not be an exaggeration to say this is a difficult book to read. Written, as it is, in its own language (see the quote), the novel tells the story of Riddley Walker, a post apocalyptic figure attempting to make sense of the world around him with the help of Punch and Judy ( Punch and Pooty - in this case).

Finishing the novel was further complicated by the delightful distraction that was seeing Neil Gaiman live, in the flesh, reading his first 2 chapters of his soon to be released novel. I was way too excited about that and it made settling into reading this all the more difficult. Nothing like a bit of social activity with good company to hijack my reading time - but in a good way.

I'm guilty, as everyone is, of the odd spelling mistake/typo but Russell Hoban has created an entire new language with some really interesting traits and double entendres in Riddley Walker. Apart from really challenging the reader's concentration, it is a testament to the author that the story drags the reader into this strange world and still conveys meaning in a unique and interesting fashion. 

With the proviso that I hope creating new languages isn't something that overwhelms the bookshelves, I really think it was used effectively here and that this is at times both a challenging and rewarding read, which could bear repeating. After some deliberation,  I'd say 5 out of 5.


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