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(Sphinx photo is by Mr. Hoban's sister Tana)

This Guestbook is no longer active, because Hoban fans now have The Kraken listserv on which to share ideas and opinions about Hobanlit. But since you're here, go ahead and peruse some early comments on this site, its contents and its subject.

Received November 29 1999:

Thanks for assembling a marvelous site dedicated to Russell Hoban and his works. I stumbled across your site quite fortuitously, and looking over it reminded me that I hadn't read any Hoban in some time and that I thoroughly enjoy his work.

Best -- Duane Spurlock, Louisville, KY, USA duane@emazing.com

Received November 11 1999:

This is an excellent web site. I have only read a few of Hoban's works, but what I really admire about him is his fresh and uncompromising approach to writing - I thought Riddley Walker was an incredible piece of writing. I'm currently reading The Medusa Frequency, which is intriguing and beautifully written and like nothing I've read before! (being a Londoner also helps you appreciate this book, I think)

Do you know a British writer called B. S. Johnson. He was writing in the 60's and 70's, and sought to redefine and breath new life into the modern novel by refusing to conform to established literary conventions. I have a site devoted to his works at http://www.josephresearch.demon.co.uk/bsjohnson/ with a link to your site on my links page, based on the fact that Hoban and Johnson, although very different writers, write with a similar spirit.

Regards, Julian Joseph, London, UK Julian.Joseph@limit.co.uk

Received October 24 1999:

"Meaning is a limit. There are no limits." I believe that's from Kleinzeit, but I'm quoting from memory, and it's probably been fifteen years since I've read the book.

The primary intent of this letter is to thank you for your Russell Hoban website. Sometimes the necessity of a mundane job, and the need to get out from under it, forces my focus away from the greater possibilities of life, away from the life preferred and toward the life deferred, as though a life minimized for the father somehow increases possibilities for the son. Well, to some degree it may, but it smacks of dystopia, of surrender, of premature burial.

And your website is a pleasant reminder that there is more to life than that. Thank you.

Gratefully yours, Rob Pierce rdp59@hotmail.com

Received August 18 1999:

Hi Dave. Last night I came across an old text book from my early school days which contained a couple of extracts from The Mouse and his Child and upon re-reading them I was struck by their simplicity, pathos but also toughness. I resolved to look up the author and arrived at your page which contains much useful information. From now on I'll keep an eye out for Hoban's work.

Well done on your initiative.

Regards, Michael Langan, Ireland miclang@aran.gmit.ie

Received July 8 1999:

it's so good to know there are others who feel the same way about RH. i've just finished Rinyo-Clacton.. it's still working inside me. i think i need to visit the Nat. Gall. and have a word with Hendryk. we have much the same way of being spread over several places at once whilst appearing to be mostly in one piece.

best wishes,
Catherine Milne, UK, iosis@hotmail.com

Received May 28 1999:

Eusa and Odin?

This is a superb Hoban site, and it's especially interesting to see discussion of other readers' interpretations of the allusions in Hoban's books. I've no doubt that Kerry Power is right about the Mad Max III connection: the tribe in Beyond Thunderdome even "do the tell".

I have just been talking to Kerry about the literal meaning (if any) of the names of Eusa's two dogs, Folleree and Folleroo. This struck me recently as a clue that, alongside St Eustace and the mythicised historical Eusa, Hoban is also identifying Eusa with Odin.

In Norse mythology, Odin was a wanderer accompanied by two wolves. His role as god of war, death and wisdom (the last achieved at great personal pain, including loss of an eye) fits very well with story of Eusa, who has "clevverness" but brings destruction too. In Riddley Walker, blindings—Eusa, and later Goodparley—likewise accompany the gaining of dangerous wisdom.

One web page about Odin (http://ireland.iol.ie/~jsfarrar/woden.htm) suggests Odin's origins as a shaman-figure accompanied by the wolf-pack; this sounds very much like Riddley, a tribal shaman himself.

Ray Girvan, Devon, UK ray.girvan@zetnet.co.uk

Received April 21 1999:
i teach the novel [Riddley Walker] in my advanced fiction seminar at mit, dave, and i've just come across your fine site. i've only skimmed its riches, read the whole interview and looked over the rest. thanks! it's a serious and loving piece of work. i'm recommending it to my class.

David Thorburn thorburn@MIT.EDU
Professor of Literature and Director
Media in Transition Project
Massachussetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

Received March 28 1999:
Thanks for putting together such a complete and well done Russell Hoban page! I didn't discover Hoban until 1995, but since then I have wanted to learn more about the author. I've always been something of a children's lit fan, and first read The Mouse and his Child because it seemed to be a book critics liked, but no one else knew anything about. Of course, just when you think you are in control of a situation, the table is turned on you and such that I was suddenly reading everything I could find by Hoban, which innitially wasn't very much. Fortunately Dan Ellis recommended the Moomin books by Tove Jansson, which although for kids, have their own bit of comfy weirdness to them, keeping me busy until the Hoban circulated its way through the used bookstores.

There are two points (the second perhaps controversial) I'd like to voice here in regards to Hoban. When I first started reading him, I was at the time very engrossed in a lot of thinkers you might put into a box labeled 'spiritual psychology', i.e. Campbell, Jung, Suzuki, etc. What has really struck me over the last few years though is how much more compelling Hoban is through the medium of fiction. I don't mean that his stories are only a tool for making some profound statement, but instead that by pairing archetypal themes with compelling stories and brilliant language, he accomplishes something more then any of those things were ever really capable of on their own. I suspect this was always the job of a good storyteller, but how often do you find one of those?

Secondly, I have only recently gotten around to The Medusa Frequency and this book in particular forces my hand on something appears to run counter to a lot of opinions I have seen viewed; namely, Russell Hoban keeps getting better. On Amazon.com Hoban actually makes special mention of this tendency to regard Riddley Walker as his only book, and I might go even farther to say that Pilgermann and Medusa dwell more deeply into Hoban's favorite territories of the human spiritual condition then Riddley, with Medusa managing more in a little over 100 pages then I would have thought possible. This being the case, I'm really anticipating my overseas order of Fremder.

Again, thank you and good luck with the page, hope to see the Marzipan Pig section up soon!

Chris Moon camoon@radiks.net

Received March 7 1999:
Just found your site after having been a Hoban lover for many years but somehow unaware of his two most recent books. I have standardly kept a stack of Riddley Walker on a shelf for many years and give them out to unsuspecting friends who "need to read it." I'll jot down more notes in the future after I have found my way through your site and the links.

Again, thanks.

Warren Bimblick, New York wniles@worldnet.att.net

Received January 28 1999:
hello dave,
thanks for your great russell hoban site! so far i have only read "the lion of...." and "riddley walker" because it is so difficult to find his books and it was an ex boyfriend who had those. i am going to order the new edition of R.W. now that i know such a thing exists. so here is something i noticed when i read these books; i read them one after the other, then i read "in watermelon sugar" by richard brautigan - and it fit in perfectly. have you read I.W.S and noticed the same thing? has russell hoban ever mentioned richard brautigan? the stories have alot in common and made a good trilogy... i just think it's something to check out if you're not familiar already. i would be interested in the opinion of someone who knows way more about hoban than i do.

keep up the good work,
jess alexander Ridlywlker@aol.com

p.s. i also thought your personal page was nice.

Received January 13 1999:


You can't imagine how delighted I am to find "The Head of Orpheus" page! My credentials as a fanatical Hobanite are found in the first paragraph of the acknowledgements in Fremder, but I've sort of lost touch since then. The last time I searched the web, there was very little to be found. Now there's an abundance, and some re-publications coming; maybe this literary genius will get the lasting recognition he deserves! More later, but THANKYOUTHANKYOU and NNVSNU TSRUNGH to you for making such a site part of the reality consensus.

Richard Hoos Richard.Hoos@mcmail.vanderbilt.edu

Received January 17 1999:
Hi Dave, I have just started on the internet. Like all beginners I was faced with "my first search". It did not take me much time to think - I typed Russell Hoban and pressed enter.

Thanks for your efforts - I have enjoyed reading all the news on Russell Hoban. I first read Russell Hoban with The Mouse and His Child when I was young. I didn't take much notice of the author then and whilst I had loved the book, Russell Hoban was an unknown to me as I entered University.

It was in 1974 and I frequently spent time browsing in the University bookshop. There was a paperback that I regularly picked up, then put down but I couldn't find the purpose to but it. The title seemed so strange. It was The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz. After many months, each time I returned to the bookshop, this book would be there on the shelf seemingly waiting for me to buy. I did and was immediately hooked. I sought out anything I could read from Russell Hoban. Over the few years I eagerly read Kleinzeit and then Turtle Diary - then I rediscovered The Mouse and His Child.

In 1980 I discovered the hardcover of Riddley Walker and I transferred from a fan to an addict. There is not not a Hoban book that I do not get in Hardcover and I have them all ...and as many children's books as I can find. My children have been bought up on Hoban's Frances books. Still, I always come back to Riddley Walker. I read it every 18 months or so and still find mysteries and new concepts that tease my thinking. "Trubba not" and Arga warga" are part of the family vernacular.

One thing you may find interesting. It relates to the George Miller (of Babe fame) movies - in Australia called the Mad Max series (I think in USA called Road Warrior) starring Mel Gibson (before he was really famous). In Mad Max 3 Beyond Thunderdome, Mel Gibson comes across a "tribe" of children (survivors in a post apocalyptic world). They speak in a modified version of English and VERY familiar to Riddley Walker speak. The children are "waiting" to be rescued by a MR Walker (!!!!) and think Mel Gibson is the one. I am sure the film writers had read Riddley Walker and made reference to Mr Walker intentionally.

Thanks again for the unofficial reference page. Keep up the good work. I have written to Russell Hoban (e-mail) and received a nice reply and have just obtained the Expanded edition (to add to the hard cover and paperback versions I already have).

Regards, Kerry Power, Melbourne, Australia kandjpower@bigpond.com

Received January 13 1999:
Dear Dave - I've just run across your "Head of Orpheus" web site. First let me say "bravo" - it's extremely well done. It's delightful to see Mr. Hoban getting the recognition he so richly deserves. Secondly, I wanted to let you know that the stage version of Riddley Walker was also produced once in the United States. I directed and designed the American premiere of Mr. Hoban's script for The Chocolate Bayou Theatre. It premiered in April of 1987.

Cheers! Greg Roach, CEO/Artistic Director, HyperBole Studios, gregor@hyperbole.com http://www.hyperbole.com

Received January 6, 1999:
Dear Dave Awl...Thank you so much for providing this wonderful website. My husband and I came upon Riddley Walker soon after it was published, fell in love with it and have reread it many times. We have walls covered with books but RW is one of but a few truly cherished works that I would never want to be without. In fact, it was one of 3 books I grabbed up when we thought our house was going to go up in flames during a fast moving grass fire.

We have lived in the country for many years, fairly isolated. I had no idea that RW was on the best-seller list...I personally have never come into contact with anyone who has read it (other than the hoards we have pressed it on over the years). I am so glad to make this contact, and also to know that Mr Hoban is revered by many, as he should be. (His list of US publishers who turned down his last book, however, is shameful, given the trash that is published here every day!)

Thanks again for making this homage to a wonderful writer available to his many fans.....

Nancy Ross shadetree@tcsn.net

Received November 8 1998:
I am quite new to all this " Russell Hoban great author" news! Your site is like a little treasure I have accidently found. My only knowledge of Hoban was through the little Frances character in the children's books. Almost every night I announce bedtime for my 9 year old daughter with "bedtime for Frances!" It has become our little game. She announces back that that is all well and good for Frances but her name is Kate. We went to a library used book sale and Kate found The Mouse and His Child so we bought it. Both of us stayed up way too late reading until we could not breathe. We sometimes left the book for days until we picked it up again. Kate begged to keep going and for once, I too felt we just had to turn one more page. We have just finished...though one is never finished with this book...and I put Kate to bed and immediately logged on. When I reached your site through a Yahoo search, I could not believe what delights were here. Now, as November chills us , I look forward to a fine winter reading season. Thank you for all your efforts..."Frances" thanks you too.
Kathleen Maugeri, New Jersey, USA kmaugeri@pilot.njin.net

Received November 5-10 1998 (from three posts):
Deer Day Voll: Many, many thanks for pointing me to your RH site. As you probably gathered if you read my booklist, Riddley Walker is my particular favorite. I wish I could read it every year for the first time. The voice of that novel, which I read as a college sophomore, has set up camp in the back woods of my psyche and resided there ever since; smoke from its cookfires comes trailing past my senses every so often, as with your recent message.

It's odd... I bought every book I could find by Russell Hoban back then, including The Medusa Frequency. But something about that particular book didn't allow me to penetrate it for a long, long time. In fact, it was only last year, when my marriage ended, that I finally read and absorbed it. And it seemed at that same time, Orpheus and his myth were everywhere I looked, in everything I read, every comic book, every song, every vision. Funny how things happen when they're meant to.

I look forward to delving further into your RH pages this weekend, at my leisure. An expanded version of Riddley!! Why wasn't I told?!? Fabulous... it's on its way to me now, of course, via the miracle of amazon.com (where I was pleased to read comments from Himself as well as the publisher!)


My god...I'm up way too late, reading your Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz page (that was my first Hoban book, too) and I'm floored that I never caught the tarot symbology before. I read it at age 14, the same time I first used tarot cards.

The pillars of Boaz and Jachin. The Chariot. The Wheel. Strength.



...I truly can't give you enough praise for your work on the site... I've spent time there every day since you invited me to look. No wonder Mr. Hoban was so pleased and impressed. One quote I'd like to see added to the Quotables page is one I saw listed on your The Trokeville Way page. I think it goes: "There are no separate things"? I am beginning to find that's quite true.

Bye bye all bes, Janis, New Hartford, New York, USA StarlingV@aol.com http://members.aol.com/starlingv/starling.htm

Received October 28 1998:
Dear Mr. Awl:

Your Russell Hoban site is a model of its kind. Dan Ellis kindly brought it to my attention. I'm teaching Riddley Walker this week, and I've learned all manner of things from you. A site to which you might want to provide a link features a discussion and numerous images of the Green Man (Greanvine) from around the world: http://www.dent.demon.co.uk/%20texts/greenman2.html

Warmly, David Cowart - Louise Fry Scudder Professor, Department of English, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina cuhyrde@vm.sc.edu

Received October 16 1998:
Having just bought my fourth copy of Riddley Walker (as it used to say on my Dad's Bryant and May matchboxes, "It's better to give than to lend, and it costs about the same"). I discovered the new edition on the British amazon.co.uk site. Guess I'll be buying a fifth copy. Anyways up, fortune wasn't really giving outrageous its undivided attention, otherwise I wouldn't have noticed Mr. Hoban mentioning your site in the 'Reviews' section of the aforemention amazon site. He sounds like a proper cheeky monkey.
The site is excellent. Quick loading, very informative and with good links. One thing to remember; I know Russell has been 'relegated to used-bookstore obscurity' in the US, but he's not exactly spending weeks in the bestseller list over here either. Consequently it would be much appreciated if any news of his activities in Britain could be posted, since it's a bugger to find info. 'at source'.
Russell, if you're reading this, thanks for everything. Don't worry, I've got most of your other books too. BTW, just what colour are your railings ?
Ian Turton, Shepherds Bush, London buffalo@easynet.co.uk

Response from Dave: Hi Ian, thanks for your comments. Rest assured that I will post any UK-relevant news I get! I want very much for the site to be global in focus rather than seeming US-centric, but I also haven't wanted to appear to speak for folks in other countries till I'd gotten some input, which is now happening. I may modify the introduction essay a bit to reflect your statement. At the moment Mr. Hoban seems to be pretty firmly ensconced in his home in London, working on finishing up Angelica's Grotto, so I don't think he'll be making any appearances anywhere, even London, in the near future. But I'll keep you posted if he does!

Received October 9 1998:
I have to thank you for your work on the Russell Hoban homepage.
I read Turtle Diary in high school. I found it in our local library and loved it--I read it one day during a fall weekend and it is forever associated with autumn for me. It is one of the best things I have ever read. So funny and sad and poignant.
It is a crime that so much of his work remains unpublished here in the United States. In a desperate act last year, I had to order a copy of Turtle Diary over the Internet from Blackwells online in Oxford (the U.K.).
Thank you for rendering this great service to the general public. I just ordered a copy of The Medusa Frequency from one of the sites under "Where can you find this fellow's books?"
Sincerely, Amanda Grant, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Received October 2 1998:
Hey thanks for putting together the Russell Hoban site. I've nearly finished RW, and it's so good I decided there had to be some folk on the net celebrating the guy.
At one level it's so laconic and funny. He has such an ear for language. He's an American, but to a Brit like me, his characters sound English. Not in the twee way that Americans often satirize us, but more deeply. He's got into the grudging heart of us.
It's so nice to read a book which doesn't patronize me. I don't mean that in a superior way. Much of what he's talking about I don't understand, but I really love to be thrown in the deep end like he does. When you begin the book you just feel that these characters are in the middle of talking, and they'll carry on like that. The facts aren't being presented in a particular order to make it easier for us to understand. It makes it more real, somehow. Of course, I know it's all artifice anyway.
And yet it's incredible the difficult truths he manages to say with his "broken" language. They're delicate things that he's addressing, and yet somehow when you've fought your way through one of his reflective paragraphs you think, wow, yes that's true, i've never thought of it like that. The 1ness/2ness thing: wouldn't that be so laboured if one was to talk abstractly about it? Isn't it so light the way he described?
And the inner experiences that he describes. I work in computing, and a lot of the discussions that surround me are pretty logical. But I've had dreams and feelings and there's stuff which doesn't fit. And yet I read Jung, and read people like Hoban, and they're talking about their own little worlds, with their own beautiful images. And I can say: yes this is right actually, this fits. There is a rightness to it.
There are ideas sometimes, like when Hoban went to Canterbury Cathedral, and those ideas are so sweet that you'd give your life (for a while) for them. There is actually ultimately no choice. Do you know what I mean? I love Hoban's humorous acceptance of his role as scribe.
Andrew, Hong Kong

Received October 2 1998:
Great site! One of the nice things about the many cools of Addom and the party cools of stoan is this side effect--the personal computer. It'll be sad when it's all gone and covered with grean rot and number creaper, eh?

Just finished reading Riddley Walker again, after having not read it since 1982 or so. It's far better than I remembered it. How many works of fiction have that kind of Power?

Thank you Mr. Hoban, and thanks Dave for the great web site.

Peter Breslin, Santa Fe, New Mexico, DesertAO7@aol.com

Received September 28 1998:
Dave, congratulations on your excellent Russell Hoban site. A few years ago I searched for Hoban on the web, and found nothing, so I was delighted to find such a comprehensive reference put together with such obvious care (and with a tawny background too!).
Richard Tucker, UK

Received September 25 1998:
Finally! I knew there must be others out there, but I could never find them. I was at the SFRA meeting that awarded Russell Hoban the John W. Campbell Award for Riddley Walker. I had never heard of the work until then. When I returned home, I purchased the book. I have read it at least three times and will return again to it soon. I now have four or five of his novels. They are not easy to find, but they are worth the effort...
-Fred Runk-

Received September 10 & 21 (from two posts)1998:
Greetings Dave, Very good web page, it was nice to find it...I was not aware of the new ed. of Riddley Walker, I shall be ordering it.

A quote for the guestbook:

"Hearing the silence is what the best teachers let themselves and their pupils do. And it is, of course, not teaching, but shared being, shared development, creation. Bach does it with his music; Haydn does it better than anybody, I think. His music does not attempt to teach you to hear; rather it clears the mind of teaching, restores to the ear a profound and original ignorance, a perceptive ignorance, a creative and cosmogonic ignorance in which you can begin to hear as if there had been no hearing before. And with your new hearing you can hear whatever may be in the silence for you; you can see whatever the darkness will open to you. Real learning cannot be motivated any more than real love. Where it is possible, it happens."
--From "Time slip, uphill lean, laminar flow, place-to-place talking and hearing the silence," talk given by Russell Hoban at a 1971 Exeter Conference, published in Children's Literature in Education 9, November 1972.

Kind regards, Tim Haillay, UK

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