Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

Is Riddley Walker a story of a likely post-nuclear dystopia? I don't think it is. If some people survived then it is likely that knowledge enough to preserve the shape of the language and pre-modern technology would survive with them. Maybe I'm not getting into the spirit of the story but sometimes when we are unwilling to suspend our disbelief traction is lacking. A story needs a possible world and this doesn't seem like one. When we look at the language which has degenerated to a restricted code that still has the shape of the original although presented in phonetic West Country we can wonder about the nature of the transmission. How is writing passed on but not spelling. Are there no books anywhere?

Is this a failure of my imagination or his? Doesn’t the form of a story create certain demands and allowances. In Magic Realism we accept talking chickens but not in a book of Zoology.

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