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Turtle Diary ()

Turtle Diary is such a quirky and distinctively British book it's surprising to find that Russell Hoban was born in Pennsylvania. the story concerns two thoroughly isolated people, William G., who's divorced from his wife and doesn't see his daughters, and Neaera H., an author of children's book, who keeps bugs, like the one's she writes about, rather than cats.

Separately they settle on the notion of releasing some sea turtles being kept at the London Zoo, but end up doing it in tandem, with the consent of one of the keepers. In someone else's hands that scenario might be fodder for romance or slapstick, but Mr. Hoban is after different game.
The man from the bookshop, would he be willing to drive the van? I think he's perhaps already thought of it, without me of course. Possibly it isn't something he'd like to share with anyone, I might be intruding. But the turtles are after all public, so to speak. Perhaps they no longer want the ocean and I'm wrong to impose my feelings on them. No, it's not always a comfort to find a like-minded person. If the bookshop man and I both have designs on the turtles we have got to muddle through it as decently as possible but there's little to be said between us beyond that. We've too much in common for us to be comfortable in each other's presence for very long.
The turtles only bring these people together briefly. They're capable of setting the turtles free but not of poking their own heads out of their emotional carapaces for more than a moment or two.

The book is written in alternating diary-style entries and is wryly funny. But the overall effect is terribly sad. It's not so much a matter of our wishing these two people would get together but a recognition of how desperate they are in their current situations. Neaera, in particular, who dwells on her childhood home of Claister and the village of Polperro in Cornwall that she recently visited, at one point says:
I'm always afraid of being lost, the secret navigational art of turtles seems a sacred thing to me.
Whatever else we may say about these two characters, they've navigated themselves into miserable dead-ends.


Grade: (B+)


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General Literature
Russell Hoban Links:

    -ESSAY: Jazz riffs in stone: Forget Michelangelo, says Russell Hoban. The 12th-century sculptor Gislebertus was like Thelonious Monk with a chisel (Russell Hoban, November 22, 2003, The Guardian)
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Russell Hoban (Bloomsbury Books)
    -THE HEAD OF ORPHEUS: A Russell Hoban Reference Page
    -Russell Conwell Hoban (born February 4, 1925) (Wikipedia)
    -The Russell Hoban Convention 2005
    -PROFILE: A writer's life: Russell Hoban: The novelist tells Alex Clark that he's never been as strange as he'd like to be (Alex Clark, 30/01/2005, Daily Telegraph)
    -PROFILE: The shaman and his exobrain (James Hopkin, January 19, 2002, The Guardian)
    -PROFILE: Secrets of the yellow pages: Russell Hoban, an illustrator and would-be artist, was decorated for bravery against the Nazis. After returning to New York he found success with stories for children. He then moved to England and achieved cult status with his novel Riddley Walker. Now 77, he aims to write a book each year (Nicholas Wroe, November 23, 2002, The Guardian)
    -TRIBUTE: The book of revelations: To mark Russell Hoban's 80th birthday David Mitchell pays tribute to Riddley Walker, and recalls how this uncompromising novel took over his imagination during a solitary period in Japan (David Mitchell, February 5, 2005, The Guardian )
        -STUDY GUIDE: Riddley Walker (Book Rags)
    -Riddley Walker Annotations
    -ARCHIVES: "russell hoban" (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW: of Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban (Head of Orpheus)
    -REVIEW: of Turtle Diary (Peter Ackroyd, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of Ridley Walker by Russell Hoban (Head of Orpheus)
    -REVIEW: of Riddley Walker (Snowstone)
    -REVIEW : of Angelica's Grotto by Russell Hoban (John Ziebell, Las Vegas Mercury)
    -REVIEW: of Angelica's Grotto by Russell Hoban (Alex Clark, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Amaryllis Night and Day by Russell Hoban (Alex Clark, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Bat Tattoo by Russell Hoban (Nicci Gerard, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of The Bat Tattoo (Alfred Hickling, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Bat Tattoo (M. John Harrison, Times Literary Supplement)
    -REVIEW: of The Bat Tattoo (Thomas Wright, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of The Bat Tattoo (Diana Hendry, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: Her Name was Lola by Russell Hoban (Reviews of Books)
-REVIEW: of Her Name Was Lola By Russell Hoban/a> (Ed Park, Village Voice)
-REVIEW: of Her Name was Lola (M John Harrison, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Her Name was Lola (Adam Mars-Jones, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of Her Name was Lola (Alex Mavor, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of Her Name was Lola (Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Her Name was Lola (Julia Flynn, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Her Name was Lola (Michael Dirda, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: Come Dance With Me by Russell Hoban (Reviews of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Come Dance With Me by Russell Hoban (David Robson, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Come Dance with Me (Peter Parker, Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of Come Dance with Me (John de Falbe, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of Come Dance With Me by Russell Hoban (Carrie O'Grady, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Come Dance With Me by Russell Hoban (Stephanie Merritt, The Observer)

    -FILMOGRAPHY: Russell Hoban (IMDB)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Russell Hoban (NY Times)
    -INFO: Turtle Diary (1985) (IMDB)
    -REVIEW: of Turtle Diary (VINCENT CANBY, February 14, 1986, NY Times)

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