Riddley Walker, by Russell Hoban

I fell in love with the language of this novel, and wanted to share some gems with you, whether you already know the book and would relish meeting it again, or might be drawn to encounter it for the first time!

It didn’t occur to me till long after i first read it that the name Riddley in itself gives a clue to the fun of deciphering Riddlleyspeak – the language Russell Hoban has devised for this novel.  The fact that so many of the unusual words he uses are like riddles in themselves.

To whet your appetite, what do you suppose are ‘Gready mints’?  ‘Strapping the lates’?, and a ‘Poynty time’?

In the attached document are some of my favourite expressions, noting  a page where they occur.

Below the table are some possible explanations to add to the grid if you like  – or you may have your own!


Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café

I was so drawn to the unique way this novel by Fannie Flagg was constructed that I decided to make a grid to illustrate its design.

In the novel we rove between news reports from a local paper called Weems Weekly; scenes that take place in a Nursing Home or the Whistle Stop Café itself as well as a variety of other locations; while the events take place over a 70-year period between 1917 and 1987.

In the table that you can access from the link  below you will see a breakdown according to scene, events, times of occurrence, and the page when each begins.

Different fonts help to characterise particular locations.  I hope you find it as much fun to read as I did in compiling it!


Riders in the Chariot – Patrick White

Why do I like Patrick White’s style so much?

Just raving about him doesn’t convince anyone,
so I decided to group some of the features that set my spine tingling.

Here are a few fragments from Riders in the Chariot, as a taster:

  • Mrs Jolley’s face, which was still eating, had become a series of lumps.
  • More than a little disarranged, her flesh turned mauve beneath the last vestiges of powder, the Lady from Czernowitz was still able to glitter from behind the kohl.
  • ‘If you will pass this way,’ almost shouted the plump goddess, perspiring on her foam rubber.
  • Little sighs would break, scintillating, on the Wilton wall-to-wall
  • The two ladies clutched each other by the gloves.
  • Mr Hoggett, who was pretty big, simply sat, in his singlet, expressing himself with his belly.
  • Her mouth, which was working to solve, suddenly subsided on the teeth.

For a fuller analysis of some of my favourite lines, see the table attached below:


If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

When reading this book by Jon McGregor for our book group, I felt impelled to create a diagram of the houses in the street he describes, with a few details about each inhabitant.

This was partly out of curiosity, and partly to act as a reference to help my failing memory!  I wondered if anyone else would find it a useful, house-shaped visual aid…

Here is the diagram: