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Booker Longlist 2022: Treacle Walker by Alan Garner

Treacle Walker by  Alan Garner – reviewed by Tracy, Jen, Lisa, Book worm.

From the Booker Website: This latest fiction from a remarkable and enduring talent brilliantly illuminates an introspective young mind trying to make sense of the world around him.

Joe Coppock squints at the world with his lazy eye. He reads his comics, collects birds’ eggs and treasures his marbles, particularly his prized dobbers. When Treacle Walker appears off the moor one day – a wanderer, a healer – an unlikely friendship is forged and the young boy is introduced to a world he could never have imagined.

In this playful, moving and evocative fable, set once again in his beloved Cheshire, the masterly Alan Garner delivers both a stunning fusion of myth and folklore and a profound exploration of the fluidity of time.

Tracy’s Thoughts: So far, this is my favorite of the list.

It’s short, but there is so much packed in this little book. The genius that I see is that Garner has written something that can be interpreted in so many ways, and each reader will see it differently, every time they read it. I found different ways to interpret this just over the course of reading it.

And this book does beg for rereading. Either for enjoyment or with a dictionary for the whimsical words and phrases.

For me, this is nearly a perfect book: it makes me think, it has whimsical characters, a plot that meanders, but does progress, clever language, and a touch of the fantastical.

I’ve seen that Garner has hinted that this is his swan song, and what a sendoff!

I’ll be very sad if this isn’t shortlisted.

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot: 4/4
Enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 20/20

Book Worms Thoughts: I hate to say it but I must be missing something I honestly can’t see why this has made the longlist. There are things I did enjoy like the playful use of words and phrases but…it went nowhere and I didn’t connect with the characters.

I get the impression that if you are not familiar with at least some of the folklore or pop culture mentioned then you would be totally lost.

Writing quality: 3/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 2/4
Plot development: 2/4
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
Total: 11/20

Lisa’s thoughts: Like Book Worm, I just did not get this book. I could see how he is a beautiful writer, but without having read any of his previous books, and without any knowledge of the culture in which this book is grounded, I found this novel to be just a collection of vignettes that never coalesced into something I could understand. And not a female character in sight.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Character development: 1/4
Plot development:1 /4
Overall enjoyment: 0/2
Total: 10/20

Jen’s Thoughts: I hated this book. I like odd books but this was beyond my comprehension and I literally had to read the Guardian review to understand what I had read. The Guardian reviewer wrote “this is a book about quantum physics as well as ancient lore.” The word play was entertaining at times but I consider myself a generally smart, well read, person and I struggled getting any meaning out of the book. It had the feel of a children’s book but with the symbolism and meaning that requires a literary degree to understand. I’m sure the book is brilliant and will make the longlist, but it made me feel like a fool.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 5/5
Character development: 1/4
Plot development: 1/4
Overall enjoyment: 0/2
Total: 11/20

Our panel’s current rankings:

  1. The Colony 18.8
  2. Maps of our Spectacular Bodies – 18.1
  3. The Trees 16.4
  4. Oh William 15.6
  5. Small Things Like These 15.3
  6. Case Study 15
  7. Booth 13.7
  8. The Treacle Walker: 13
  9. Night crawling 11.08

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Should it make the shortlist?

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Remedial Stitcher #

    I have this on my list, and I’m lookiong forward to reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 29, 2022
  2. wow, good for you Tracy – the two paragraphs I sort of read were enough for me

    Liked by 1 person

    August 29, 2022
  3. Hugh Hollinshead #

    “And not a female character in sight” says everything about the level of criticism. Garner is telling a story, not writing a tract.


    August 30, 2022

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