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Pale Fire: A Poem in Four Cantos by John Shade
Vladimir Nabokov, Brian Boyd
Pale Fire
Vladimir Nabokov
Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground New Edition
Michael Moynihan, Didrik Søderlind
Under Stones
Bob Franklin
The Erotic Potential of My Wife
David Foenkinos, Yasmine Gaspard
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Jaclyn Moriarty
Winter's Bone
Daniel Woodrell
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Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
Neil Gaiman
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Richard Marsh
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Keri Smith
Riddley Walker - Russell Hoban This is already a sentimental favourite for me. I've only read it once, but I'm already imagining reading it again and again, adding to the notes in the margins as I go..... sigh. Book love.The book's premise is that an apocalyptic nuclear event (taking place roughly now) has resulted in Britain being flooded, creating an island out of what is now County Kent, in Britain. The story takes place a couple of thousand years in the future, when little knowledge of mankind's history has survived, and society has essentially reverted to the iron age. The history of the world that was is shrouded in mythology, and the mythology is kept alive by means of a travelling puppet show. Of course!A lot of Hoban's world building is accomplished through the language he invented for this book. It's a unique dialect, built on the few remaining relics and scraps of evidence that survive of humanity's past, referencing technological, parliamentary and religious terms without the original context. There's a certain amount of tongue-in-cheek humour here, with terms like "helping the qwirys", derived from "helping the police with their inquiries", meaning "being tortured for information". On top of that, Hoban set out to imbue the words with multiple (but complimentary) meanings wherever possible. He also added some complexity to the language in order to slow the reader down to Riddley's comprehension level, which I think is a nice touch. The result is a rich, many-layered and wholly believable language for a post-apocalyptic British society. It reminds me of some of the creole-based languages used in Northern Australian communities,(Kriol, TSI Creole etc) and the Asian creoles like Singlish and Manglish. You can sound it out and it soon becomes obvious that it's based on English that has been modified to suit the new environment. Reading the book was a lot like solving a cryptic crossword puzzle, and I constantly found myself puzzling over particular phrases and looking for puns and double meanings. You really don't need to try to figure out all of the words though, as Hoban (who sadly passed away in December) did an amazing job making them work on an intuitive level. I loved being able to see new meanings in the words, and knowing that even if it wasn't what Hoban had in mind, he would have approved.References - The 20th Anniversary Edition has some REALLY useful extra content at the back, including a sample glossary, which I would recommend reading before reading the story. It will make the language and context a lot quicker to grasp. I would recommend starting with the Afterword. There are also a couple of good references online for looking up words, mythology and concepts from Riddley Walker. I used this one mostly: http://www.errorbar.net/rw/index/ - Keep in mind that this is not a definitive reference text. It's a nice collection of interpretations from a group of readers but it doesn't cover everything, and they are only opinions. If you perceive other linkages there, try googling for more info. At the end of the day, your interpretations will be perfectly valid if they work for you. And THAT's the beauty of Riddley Walker.