Irving Goodman, self-confessed dirty old man, is 83 years old and has just fallen in love. Unfortunately, Justine Trimble, satr of 1950s cowboy B-movies, has been dead for 47 years. He saw her first in Last Stage to El Paso, a lowlife black-and-whie Western, and has been unable to think of anything else since. Desperate, Goodman invokes the help of his old friend, Istvan Fallock, to see if they can't somehow coax a videotape to yield the 25-year-old Justine. So with a test tube, distillation of frog, a soupcon of primordial soup mixed with a suspension of disbelief, they summon her back to life. And to their surprise and consternation, she materializes. As a reward for lust and hubris, Irving gets a lot more than the affection and attention he'd bargained for. Thus beings an amazing tale of murder and mayhem in contemporary London, where sexy vampire cowgirls run amok, chased by men old enough to know better.
Who but Russell Hoban could weave a tale of life’s pleasures and pain around a candy pig? And who but Quentin Blake could make the most poignant of stories so lighthearted and delightful? In this episodic picture book by an inimitable author-illustrator duo, a fantastic chain of events is triggered by the unacknowledged fall of a marzipan pig behind the sofa. We meet in quick succession a heartsick mouse, a lonely grandfather clock, an owl in love with a taxi meter, a worker bee, a fading hibiscus flower, a mouse who greets the dawn dancing, and finally a boy who guesses at the true relations between things. Appealing to the unsentimental yet sensitive nature of children, The Marzipan Pig is exquisitely attuned to the bittersweet wonder of life and to the sentience of all beings.
"There is a strangeness about Christabel Alderton. Elias Newman can see it right away, as well he might.
"When Christabel was 13 she was walking by the River Lea and some people in a cabin cruiser waved to her. The scene before her seemed to freeze like a photograph and she felt weird. A little later the boat blew up and killed everyone on board. Since then she's been troubled by a sort of second sight that works sometimes, but not always. Now, years later, she sings with a band called Mobile Mortuary who make their onstage entrance climbing out of body drawers. Death is much on her mind because the men in her life tend to die before their time and she's come to think she's bad luck. Elias Newman is a diabetologist who meets Christabel at a Royal Academy of Arts exhibition. Fascinated, he's keen to know her better. She's attracted to him but afraid of what might happen if she lets herself fall in love. Christabel and Elias are complicated people. Via Symbolist paintings and German ballads the narrative flows from the River Lea via a haunted woodland bog out to the crash of the Pacific surf on Kahakuloa Head in the Hawaiian Islands. And only in a Hoban novel could such an intensely involving love story embrace the redemptive power of ketchup bottles.
He climbs a ladder to reach another man's wife and gives himself up to her beauty, but then Pilgermann descends into a mob of peasants inspired by the Pope to shed the blood of Jews. Alone on the cobblestones, he cries out to Israel, to the Lord his God, to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. He is answered instead by Jesus Christ.
Kleinzeit, Russell Hoban's second novel, is probably the funniest of his books. It's a stylized, completely unpredictable story about a man in search of reality, armed only with a Glockenspiel and a copy of Thucydides' The Peloponnesian War. The story opens as our hero, Kleinzeit, experiences a mysterious flash of pain in his hypotenuse. That morning he gets sacked from his job as a copywriter and is checked into hospital by his doctor. Hospital has been waiting for Kleinzeit; so has Sister, the kindly nurse who is about to become his link to sanity as he is existentially heckled by the voracious, sadistically witty institution known as Hospital, as well as the nonsensical doctors and ailments who put him there.
An inexplicable message flashed onto the screen of his Apple II computer at 3am heralds the beginning of a startling quest for frustrated author Herman Orff. Taking up the offer of a cure for writer's block plunges him into a semi-dreamland inhabited by a bizarre combination of characters from myth and reality; the talking head of Orpheus, the young girl of Vermeer's famous portrait, and a frequency of Medusas.
Walker is my name and I am the same. Riddley Walker. Walking my riddels where ever theyve took me and walking them now on this paper the same. There aint that many sir prizes in life if you take noatis of every thing. Every time will have its happenings out and every place the same. Thats why I finely come to writing all this down. Thinking on what the idear of us myt be. Thinking on that thing whats in us lorn and loan and oansome.' Composed in an English which has never been spoken and laced with a storytelling tradition that predates the written word, RIDDLEY WALKER is the world waiting for us at the bitter end of the nuclear road. It is desolate, dangerous and harrowing, and a modern masterpiece.
Phil Ockerman falls for Bertha Strunk at a tango lesson in a church crypt in Clerkenwell. Each recently separated, both their Suns are squared by Neptune. Bertha also bears a strong resemblance to the 17th century Venetian singer and composer, Barbara Strozzi with whom Phil is obsessed.
Jonathan Fitch is distraught when his girfriend, Serafina, leaves him. He is so desperate that when the peculiar Mr Rinyo-Clacton offers him one million pounds but only one year to live, he agrees to the proposal. But what happened next was even more shocking.
Altogether original, at once searing and amusing, this darkly comic novel confronts Harold Klein, now in his infirm seventies, with a strange malady -- the loss of his "inner voice" -- and introduces him to the steamy world of Internet sex. Inexplicably bereft of the mental faculty that would under normal circumstances keep him from blurting out, uncensored, the first thought that pops into his head, art connoisseur Klein wanders one evening into a pornographic Web site, Angelica's Grotto. An ongoing on-line dialogue, totally without verbal inhibition on Klein's part, eventually brings him face-to-face with the brains behind the grotto, an academic sex researcher named Melissa Bottomley. Harold Klein's erotic odyssey takes him not only through unimagined erogenous zones but also into arcane corners of the art world, as he seeks to meet Melissa's need for funding and she his for sexual gratification. As Klein strives to reconcile new desires with old habits, author Russell Hoban compellingly explores the dark relations between art and pornography, acts virtual and real, culture and politics, revelation and privacy.
In Ariosto's epic 16th-century poem Orlando Furioso, the beautiful Angelica, chained, naked, to a rock and menaced by a sea monster is rescued by the valiant Ruggiero, riding a 'hippogriff', the offspring of a griffin and a mare - an entirely imaginary winged creature (as readers of Harry Potter know). Volatore, as this hippogriff calls himself, has escaped the poem in which he has been confined for centuries and is determined to find his Angelica, even if it takes him to the 21st century and involves some shape-shifting. He lands in contemporary San Francisco and the first person he sets eyes on is Angelica Greenberg, the Jewish owner of a San Franciscan art gallery, who has just dumped her fiance. Volatore rises to her window and they hit it off big-time. But no sooner have they met and fallen in love than events conspire to separate the two so that Volatore must not only seek Angelica but also find the perfect form in which to consummate his undying love. The first is too masculine, the second not enough so, but will the third be just right, and how will Angelica reconcile the imaginary and the real in the perfect lover?
The first time Peter Diggs saw Amaryllis she was at a bus stop where the street sign said Balsamic, although there was nothing vinegary about the place. The bus was unthinkably tall, made of yellow, orange and pink rice paper, lit from within like a Japanese lantern. That was a dream, but where this romance goes as the dream begins to intersect reality is nothing that a reader can be prepared for. 'Trust me, I'm a weirdo, ' says Amaryllis as she and Peter embark on their nocturnal experimentation, which leaves no one, on quite the same footing with reality
Recently widowed and increasingly lonely, Roswell's life had arrived at the point when he felt he needed a tattoo. His ideal image was that of a bat featured on an 18th-century bowl in the Victoria and Albert Museum, but strangely, on a visit to the museum, he encountered a woman called Sarah, who was compelled by the same bat. What did it mean?
There were no more lions any more. There had been lions once. Sometimes in the shimmer of of the heat on the plains the motion of their running still flickered on the dry wind – tawny, great and quickly gone. Sometimes the honey-coloured moon shivered to the silence of a ghost-roar on the rising air.
Jachin-Boaz lives in a dusty town where he owns a shop that sells all kinds of maps: maps to find water, love, money, whatever the heart desires. He has a son, Boaz-Jachin, for whom he is making him a master-map that will be given to him when he is a man. This map that will contain all the secrets of the other maps combined, so that he will be able to find whatever he wishes to seek.
Jachin-Boaz shows his son the map, a labor of love representing years of his life spent upon it. Rhetorically he asks, ‘What can you seek that this map will not show you how to find?’ ‘A lion?’ asks Boaz-Jachin. Disappointed, the father responds: ‘A lion. I don’t think I understand you. I don’t think you’re being serious with me. You know very well there are no lions now.’
But then Jachin-Boaz leaves home, abandoning his wife and son and taking the master-map. He leaves a note which reads ‘I have gone to look for a lion.’ In the desert outside the town, there is a palace where the last king is entombed, his lion hunt carved in stone. Boaz-Jachin, who has decided to seek out his father and ask for the map, takes a bus to the palace where he makes a powerful connection with the image of the dying lion carved in stone.
Through a simple act of sympathetic magic, the son loosens the spears and sets the lion’s spirit free, then begins his journey across land and sea to find his father.
Life in a city can be atomizing, isolating. And it certainly is for William G. and Neaera H., the strangers at the center of Russell Hoban’s surprisingly heartwarming novel Turtle Diary. William, a clerk at a used-book store, lives in a rooming house after a divorce that has left him without home or family. Neaera is a successful writer of children’s books, who, in her own estimation, “looks like the sort of spinster who doesn’t keep cats and is not a vegetarian. Looks…like a man’s woman who hasn’t got a man.” Entirely unknown to each other, they are both drawn to the turtle tank at the London zoo with “minds full of turtle thoughts,” wondering how the turtles might be freed. And then comes the day when Neaera walks into William’s bookstore, and together they form an unlikely partnership to make what seemed a crazy dream become a reality.
"What are we, Papa?" the toy mouse child asked his father.
"I don't know," the father answered. "We must wait and see."
A tin father and son dance under a Christmas tree until they break ancient clock-work rules and are themselves broken. Discarded, rescued, repaired by a tramp, they quest for dream of a family and a place of their own - magnificent doll house, plush elephant, and tin seal remembered from a toy shop.