Books That Inspire 2001

RIddley Walker
Russell Hoban

Riddley Walker has haunted me ever since I read it two decades ago. Why? Because Riddley Walker asks poignant (and ultimately unanswerable) questions that make the reader reflect on the history of civilizations and why they have disappeared leaving only artifacts and myth. Hoban writes of a future, when, as the survivors begin to sift through the detritus of ruins and uncover parts of our civilization, they rediscover the process to make a substance which they worship and incorporate into rituals. Hoban’s hypothesis is that, in George Santayana’s memorable phrase, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Andrew Phelan
Director/Professor Art