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Riddley Walker [Paperback]

Will Self Russell Hoban
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Oct. 7 2002 --  
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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable masterpiece Dec 31 2003
I wish there were a sixth star available, to distinguish this monumental work from your ordinary everyday Oprah novels, Atonement or House of Sand and Fog or The Shipping News, e.g. Smart people I know put this book down after a few chapters, finding it too challenging and odd. Very smart people I know find it fascinating and memorable. The smartest people I know think it may be the finest book of the last quarter century.
I highly recommend reading the first three or four chapters, and then starting over, once you've mastered Riddley's dialect. Reading it aloud also helps. You will find yourself thinking and talking in Riddley-speak for months afterwards. And you will read it again and again, finding new marvels each time.
I can give no higher marks to any book since Zorba The Greek.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Redefines the Very Concept of Reading Sept. 28 2003
Aside from The Lord of the Rings, Hoban's Riddley Walker is the most imaginative piece of fiction I've ever read. This is a novel to savor, to prolong, if possible, to pore over, to backtrack upon, to celebrate.
Do not be put off by the post-apocalyptic plot description. This is not your father's Neville Schute story. Nor is it Stephen King. This is a multi-layered, cosmic, end of days tale, that far transcends all other entries in "the genre." Hoban has been compared to Joyce, but don't be put off by that either, if you struggled through Finnegan's Wake, as most do. This is accessible. Highly so. Sure, you have to invest some effort and if you are the type of reader who has to have everything conveyed immediately to you, you will not enjoy this work. Hoban is essentially playing a game with his reader. If you enjoy riddles ("Walker is my name and I am the same. Riddley Walker. Walking my riddles where ever theyve took me and walking them now on this paper the same."), Hoban will definitely keep you guessing. This is probably modern fiction's most "interactive" novel. The progressive revelations clue you in as you "walk" with Riddley through Inland (England). The path is so devious, yet so honest, at the same time, that you never want Riddley to seperate from you (a motif in the work) and you never want to lose his companionship.
Suffice it to say that I've been so obsessed over this book that I have joined a Hoban fan club and I can't wait to read more from this astounding author. If you can read updated Chaucer, you should have no difficulty grasping Riddley's vernacular, though there are some similarities to earlier English speech. Allow at least three chapters to get into the cadence and the inner logic of the "Riddley Speak.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Sept. 19 2003
By A Customer
Many years after reading "Riddley Walker," what has stayed with me was Lissener's story "The Other Voyce Owl of the Worl." I can still recall nearly every word after reading it only once over 20 years ago.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a lidl fun March 7 2000
I parbly wer preddy gud at speln bfor I redd this buk Riddley Walker an I parbly arn enny gud at it enny mor but thats ok. Cuz I wud rather be 1 wut redd this buk its amazn. The man Rusl Hoban wut rowt it he wer usin his maginatn he wer teln the tales. He has makt a wurl wut is prymevl an it wer in the futr at the sayme tym. The wurdz he makt em up also an we ken stil unnerstan em they iz frum us an is frum them 2. An he put the musik innit the wurdz 2. You shud jus by this buk an redd it. There is 1 trubba wid it ther arn enuf starz forit.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A novel written in Riddleyspeak! Dec 7 2003
Riddley Walker is a most unusual and rewarding novel! It is narrated by Riddley, who lives in what is left of England, about two thousand years after civilization as we know it was destroyed by a nuclear war. He describes an odyssey he takes when he turns twelve years of age. What sets this book apart from others is that it is written entirely in "Riddleyspeak," a kind of pigen English that has evolved after all remnants of society and learning have disappeared. The people of Riddley's world live almost like animals, scratching out an existence, believing in superstition and legend, reduced to the most basic elements of survival. Riddley, on the other hand is semi-literate, thoughtful, and curious about the past and the future. Try this:
Riddley ryts like thice and you mae fynd it hard to desifer, so youl hav to pae atenshun. He and hiz peapl r veree dffrunt frum us; thae r hard and brutl, but Riddley's werds r offen qwite funee.
If you think you can read a whole book written like the above, you will enjoy the challenge of this amazing, poignant, and often humorous novel. The plot is not as important as the unique language, which speaks volumes about Riddley's life. Reading this book is a wonderful and rewarding experience!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The most believable post-apocalyptic hero Oct. 20 2003
By A.J.
Russell Hoban's "Riddley Walker" is more than just a novel of the post-apocalypse; it is so original and odd for the language it uses and the mythology it creates, it's clearly in a class by itself, as though it could be a relic of an imaginary civilization. Hoban chooses as his setting the county of Kent in southeastern England, now called Inland, where in 1997 something called the Power Ring, encircling what used to be Canterbury, was responsible for a nuclear cataclysm called the 1 Big 1 that nearly destroyed the earth. In the thousands of years since, mankind has undergone an evolutionary breakdown and reverted to Iron Age technology and tribal society, hunting with spears, scavenging for scrap metal, and speaking a vestigial form of Cockney English.
Twelve-year-old Riddley Walker, as one of the few literate people in his community, is the voice of the novel and writes in a manner that reflects the primitive speech of his society, constructing jagged sentences and spelling words phonetically. He alone senses the greatness of the civilization that was destroyed so long ago; he wonders why his own people are unable to put "boats in the air and picters on the wind." As a "connexion" man, he channels the spirit of an entity named Eusa, a mythical figure to whom the 1 Big 1 and perhaps even all of creation are attributed. The origin of Eusa's name is associated with the most famous landmark in "Cambry," the former Canterbury; an eyeless boy Riddley meets named Lissener, who proclaims himself the "Ardship of Cambry," shows the peculiar logic with which the theologies from the two epochs have merged.
One day while excavating in a place called Widders Dump, Riddley finds a Punch hand puppet -- with a severed hand still inside.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
Don't miss this book - takes a little effort to get into it, but more than worth it - really thought provoking.
Published 6 months ago by Sheana Parker
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written
Nice book - cerebral and poetic.

If you read sci-fi for insights into human character, behaviour etc. you'll like this. Read more
Published 21 months ago by steve u
3.0 out of 5 stars No big deal
Definitely not a classic. The modified language is somewhat interesting. It's difficult enough to change the feeling of time in the novel. Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2008 by psysov8
5.0 out of 5 stars riddley walker
To those who have difficulty reading this book, may I suggest reading it aloud? The language is English, written the way it sounds. The places named are mostly in Essex. Read more
Published on June 9 2004 by t janega
1.0 out of 5 stars give me a break
I am sure this book is a darling of academics, but it was a tedious read, to say the least. The artificial language was a huge impediment to understanding the story, and as a... Read more
Published on June 4 2004 by katla
1.0 out of 5 stars Unbearable.
Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker (Summit, 1980)
I have heard Riddley Walker praised as a classic in the making many times. Read more
Published on April 23 2004 by Robert Beveridge
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, fully realized work of fiction
"Riddley Walker" is undeniably one of the most unique novels I have ever come across. All plotting aside, the bizarre (yet understandable) pidgin English that it is written in... Read more
Published on July 26 2002 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than a Vonnegut clusterf***
When I first read this book several years ago, I was completely taken in by the abstract language and all the possibilities it allowed for interpretation. Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2001 by The Rarebit Fiend
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