Russell Hoban quotations used in SA4QE

This is a list of quotations from Russell Hoban's books used in the annual SA4QE fan event. Click on the novel title for details of that book, or on the "read more" link for details of who chose the quotation and where they left it.

“What most people take to be reality is a load of old nonsense invented by not very inventive minds.”

“Hear the earth say itself, ponderous with evening, turning to the night.”

“‘Nameless here for evermore’ she said. ‘Names are pretty useless really. If you say the name of anything ten or twenty times it scatters and falls away and the thing that’s named stands there all naked and unknowable’. 

"Pas the sarvering gallack seas and flaming nebyul eye, 

Power us beyont the farthes reaches of the sky,

Thine the han what shapit the black

Guyd us there and guyd us back”.

I have a Friend's card; I like the way they nod me through when I show it: I'm not a stranger.  I always feel good in museums.  I like the high ceilings and the acoustics, the footsteps and the voices, the silence over and under the footsteps and voices and the individual silences of each thing, all of them different, all of them holding a long-departed Now.

“In the storm a safe place, a calm and wild place.  Oh the great secret.  The forever-moment that has always been and will always be, the centre to which the universe configures itself.  The magic place, the good blackness.  The dancing of the heat on the infinite sands, the pyramids, the ziggurats, the lightning and the sphinxes of it, the pleasant palaces and rainbows.  Now the satyrs are quiet and full-fed, now they sleep while the wild dogs howl.  Broken is the great vessel of the alone, the aloneness is all spilt out.  Broken the forty jars of silence wherein I crouched like forty dead thieves.  Broken, broken, broken the solitary madness where the lizard-men ran silent on the ceiling of my mind.  How they screamed and wept, how they dropped and one by one burst on the stone of Yes.  The Yes of the death of the lizard-men.”

"Right", she said. "The thing is to move your head out of its ordinary busy-busy mode and make a clear space for things to happen in..."

'We make fiction because we are fiction ... It lived us into being and it lives us still.'

One assumes that the world simply is and is and is but it isn't, it is like music that we hear a moment at a time and put together in our heads. But this music, unlike other music, cannot be performed again.


from Mr Rinyo-Clacton’s Offer
 – Russell Hoban –

I took the Edgware Road train to Notting Hill Gate and the Central Line from there to Chancery Lane. The afternoon reality was a low-budget sort of thing I wasn't sure that everything I saw even had a back to it. None of the people in the underground had speaking parts and many of the faces were blank. The Grays Inn Road scenery had been done without much detail – a shop that sold second-hand office furnishings and another that cut keys were fairly realistic but I doubted that the doors actually opened and closed. The Morgenstern building was a little more convincing – a pseudo-Bauhaus thing with practical glass doors.

The security man at the reception desk looked me over critically but I brazened it out, signed in, and took the lift to the third floor. ‘Jonathan Fitch to see Jim Reilly,’ I said to the smart young woman who greeted me. She asked me if I'd like a coffee, I said yes, and she showed me to a conference room filled with business-grade sunlight.


Jim Reilly appeared shortly; he looked and sounded pretty much like me. There are probably a lot of people in the potential-realising-and-maximising business who look and sound like us – decent, clean-cut types with good teeth, firm handshakes, and clear eyes that don't blink too much. Jim had about two kilos of bumph under his arm which he laid on the dark and shining table. He took a sheet from the top and handed it to me. ‘I put together a little agenda here,’ he said, ‘of the points I'd like to cover in this first meeting.’ […]


My eyes travelled down the agenda but my mind had already fixed on Point 3: CLIENT OBJECTIVES! Did I have any, and what were they? The smart young woman brought in coffee and I drank it while Jim Reilly went on for quite a long time like a TV with the sound turned off. Every now and then he paused to remove some of the papers from the top of the two kilo stack and place them before me while I nodded or tilted my head to one side appreciatively and made such verbal responses as my mouth could manage. Objectives!

Celebrating the late, great writer’s 89th birthday


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