The Silver Eel

"A gape-jawed serpentine shape of pale metal crested with soot hung high for a sign."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Finished RW today. Comparisons with Garner and Huck Finn are appropriate. Also with Davy. I have problems with the structure of the narrative at some points ('plot' would be pushing it), where it seems to me - and indeed Riddley himself says so - that arbitrary things are happening because it's as if they're meant to happen that way. Instantly, whether it's fair or not, one sees the hand of the author. As we know, it's the laziest, easiest cop-out going, and I can't believe that someone of Russell Hoban's evident imagination and skill (genius might not be pushing it) would make use of it, so I think I must be missing something, as I did with the first few readings of Red Shift.

So I will re-read RW at some point, though not immediately - this is most definitely a novel you want to let stew for a while. The experience of reading it is extraordinary. As a couple of people have written, Riddleyspeak forces you to slow down, to discover, and to absorb, even as Riddley himself does - in fact you begin reading like a child again. For this alone, probably for this most of all, I'd recommend it to anyone. Why did he have to make it so difficult, indeed! - that's the point!


Oh Jesus. Nearly two years since I bought it. This is a slow train.



At 19 July 2007 at 21:57 , Blogger Joe said...

We did this for the book group last month, a book I had long been meaning to read. And I really, really disliked it. As a piece of art playing with convention it is very clever but as a novel it was unreadable and while the idea of the alternative speech is interesting I found it dreadfully grating to wade through page after page. And the lack of characterisation didn't help to keep me interested. Been meaning to read it for years after hearing a lot about it and found myself very disappointed.

At 20 July 2007 at 21:21 , Blogger The Silver Eel said...

Excellent! This gives us a good excuse to have a pint. Shame you didn't enjoy it tho.


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