Hawthorn and Child Paperback – 5 Jul 2012
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'An idiosyncratic and fascinating novel... refreshingly contemporary in language and style' -Zadie Smith
'The novel that has impressed, mesmerised and bamboozled me most this past year is Hawthorn and Child by Keith Ridgway. It begins as a police procedural, then spins outwards, never quite coming back to explain the mystery. A novel or a series of loosely connected short stories? I don't really care. Whatever it is, it's great.' -Ian Rankin, Guardian
'Ridgway's best compositions can be breathtakingly unpredictable ... At his best, Ridgway is unapologetically strange. And the writing is perfectly assured and elegant' --Scarlett Thomas, Guardian
'Ridgway writes with the keen sense of place and lucid, pared-down prose of a good crime novel, which makes the more outlandish deviations even more arresting'-Observer
'Not only in its dialogue, but in its bawdy subversiveness, Hawthorn and Child is a thoroughly Irish affair. Samuel Beckett and Flann O Brien come regularly to mind, although Keith Ridgway's blend of the grotesque and the absurd is all his own... An admirably conceived work of fiction' -Times Literary Supplement
'This unorthodox, word-of-mouth success follows a detective duo whose cases refuse to reach any neat resolution, instead heading off on dark, unpredictable tangents, the interlocking stories are too clever to be resisted.'-Sunday Express
'It sometimes seems as if the modernist tradition in Irish fiction has run its course. But Ridgway looks more and more a worthy inheritor of its best quality, the impulse to be fresh, startling and challenging without being wilful or arbitrary. Hawthorn and Child, with two policemen traversing London and trying to make sense of its crimes, is strange, disconcerting, often dark. It s also superbly written and compulsively readable.' --Irish Times
'His characters are so compelling and the situations in which he thrusts them so gripping ... it's worth reading Hawthorn and Child for the thrills alone ... And the black humour throughout is glorious' --Independent --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Keith Ridgway is a Dubliner and the author of the novels The Long Falling, The Parts and Animals, as well as the collection of stories Standard Time and the novella Horses. His books have won awards and acclaim in Ireland and internationally and are translated widely. He lived in North London for eleven years. He now lives somewhere else.
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Top Customer Reviews
If Hawthorn and Child reminds me of anything, it's Nicola Barker's Darkmans. Darkmans has more plot (to be frank, most books do) but, like Hawthorn and Child, it was a book I kept wanting to re-read so I could piece together more of the oblique references, the throwaway remarks and word choices that you suddenly realise might be meaningful - in Hawthorn and Child, there is a recurrent theme of confusion over words, of mishearing, of not being able to find quite the right terms. Hawthorn and Child also shares a similarly mundane setting, in which odd things happen. In the opening chapter, for instance, there is the odd suggestion that a man may possibly have been shot by a ghost car.Read more ›
Then again, maybe I have just lived a very sheltered life! I found myself struggling to imagine Hawthorn's gay rugby-style orgies, or get any sense of the oddly-named Mishazzo, whom they are ostensibly chasing, and the fantasy narrative of the wolves didn't work for me and seemed an odd inclusion.
Overall though I enjoyed reading it. In a world where the bestsellers are by and large unchallenging, this is original and intelligent, and also subtly funny. I would happily read other work by Ridgway, and bought 'The Spectacular', on the strength of this. 'Spectacular' is a related short story, and could easily have been another section in the novel, which seems to illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of the unusual structure.
--How's the thing?
Hawthorn made a face and looked out of the window.
The imprecision of language is everywhere. Here, Hawthorn's brother wants to ask but can't bring himself to be specific. Elsewhere, when investigating the shooting, Hawthorn and Child take a witness's response to a question ("Not really") as an opening, when really it's just a loose end. They are desperate to make things fit. "We usually don't decide anything about things that don't fit. They just don't fit. So we leave them out." In this, they are like all of us, even when we are reading this book and trying to join together the pieces of the narrative. (Ridgway: "We want to tell ourselves and our days and our lives as stories, and these things are not stories.Read more ›
So what actually is this book?
For an answer, we might look at Keith Ridgway's history. He is a published short story writer with the excellent Standard Time collection under his belt, and both Animals and Horses feel like short stories. The Parts was a collection of multiple threads and multiple narrators interleaved. His only regular novel is The Long Falling, a sort of Colm Toibin lookalike. It is clear that Hawthorn and Child is, in fact, a collection of short stories that have been packaged together as a novel - presumably to assist sales. And as a collection of stories telling the story of a city (north London) it is pretty good. It is, perhaps, the novel that Booker longlisted Communion Town aspired to be. But, as with so many short story collections, Hawthorn and Child struggles to be memorable.
There are nods to other works. For a while, it feels as though Ridgway is nodding towards Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman; towards the end there seems to be more of a feel of JM O'Neill's Duffy Is Dead. There's also a feel of Joyce's Dubliners. So in terms of its aspirations, it aims high.
And some of the stories are really very good.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Why have I given this book 3 stars? I don't know. Perhaps it's because I read it very quickly. But why did I read it very quickly? Read morePublished 7 months ago by Aw
I came to this book following a recommendation in another authors blog and as such did not read any of the reviews posted on Amazon. Big mistake. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Saffron
I think it possibly helped that I read this book whilst seriously sleep-deprived. Several of the characters are in a similar state and the book has a disjointed, dreamlike quality,... Read morePublished on 19 July 2014 by Reprobus Marmaritarum
I thought this book would be a challenge, but I also assumed it would have answers to be found. It doesn't.
This is a collection of tales, not even all of them are connected. Read more
Bits of this were excellent, a lot of it was gross and not much of it related to the almost non existent plot; especially towards the end. Read morePublished on 3 Mar. 2014 by Katy Hillary
Well thank you Mr Keith Ridgway, at least I know of one author to avoid in future.
I saw this book in the UK's best high street bookshop, with a review from one of the... Read more
Reviews of this book seem to be pretty divided. Several parts of it were originally published as short stories and that does kind of come through. Read morePublished on 21 Jan. 2014 by Peter Skelton
I've read very diverse reviews for this book, one of the very few I've given up on part way through. I gave up before I read them. Read morePublished on 9 Oct. 2013 by Mr. G. Foxton