Some of you may have heard — Russell Hoban died ten days back. You may know him through the Frances The Badger books (which I remember as a child). He’ll be remembered for Frances, of course, but I wanted to remember him for Riddley Walker, the novel, and also for Riddley Walker, the character.
I re-discovered Hoban in my adulthood, when somebody pointed me at Riddley Walker. Written entirely in Riddley’s idiosyncratic spelling, the novel is Riddley’s own notes and journals: he has taught himself to make words on paper in a post-apocalyptic England that can barely keep him alive, let alone be concerned about his literacy. Riddley’s a wise young man, though, and writes about the same things that most teenagers — especially the better-read-than-their-peers ones — think about, like how to find community, and the possibilities and despairs of friendship and love and consciousness and if you can really know something:
I cud feal it in the guts and barrils of me. You try to make your self 1 with some thing or some body but try as you wil the 2ness of every thing is working agenst you all the way. You try to take holt of the 1ness and it comes in 2 in your hans.
Seeing that boars face in my mynd that morning in the aulders and seeing it in my mynd now I have the same thot I had then: If you cud even jus see 1 thing clear the woal of whats in it you cud see every thing clear. But you never wil get to see the woal of any thing youre all ways in the middl of it living it or moving thru it. Never mynd.
(source of excerpts.)
Go find Riddley Walker at your local bookshop or library. Read it. Let me know what you thought.