23 thoughts on “ootHaNgbart – Rebecca Lloyd

  1. imag01091 Forever Is A Curious Idea

    “; work was not to start until Trumpet-time…”

    This first chapter is so entrancing I need to get up to look around and find a passing postbox fellow to take you a properly written missive rather than depend on this rather easy way of writing that is tantamount to speaking electronically…always eligible for deleting at source.

    “‘Nope. I’m of the opinion that once a thing is written, it sticks there and cannot be pulled away. But in speaking, ideas float about invisibly, and if it becomes necessary they can be denied.”

    I have already ethereally fallen in love with the character of Donal and of this book’s eponymous genius-loci, the various fellows, strictures, fraternal rivalries, named times of day, work practices, kite flying, time philosophies, the pecking order, the grand escalator and much more. All quite unique with a tinge of paradoxical familiarity. And beautifully written.
    I might read an enormous chunk in due course before reporting back here, and my comments above about its charm should in future, I am confident, be taken as read without the need of my repeating them.
    But what about the bears?

    “…as he made his way through the intersecting alleyways to the High Street,…”


    Absolutely delightful!
    Quite impossible to compare this book to anything else, although I can imagine new-grown imagInation-archetypes that underpin it from without this new world of infinity-aspiring inhabitants in denial about a place called Bristol.
    Delightful, yes, but not without strictures, and I don’t want to sour the atmosphere of this review by seeking clever-clever comparisons for its various institutions (like those of its divisions for time and of found objects and merit-giving and queuing trades), not to artificially concoct comparisons with institutions in our own world like Trump or Brexit, even though I was rather shocked by the new rules for Trumpet-Time.
    I already sense this book’s place in literature is not that of satire nor is it a young-adult or full-grown-up fiction fantasy to be read by people in our world, but it is, I am sure, a place-or-thing-in-itself that is separate from us and singularly autonomous.


    How to measure being there by a piece of string, then a string to a kite, a kite you can’t see but it is still beautiful even when you can’t see it, the machinations of the eponymous genius-loci’s civilisation echoing obliquely with our own perhaps (“‘If you get right to the top you can do exactly as you please?’ he asked.”)
    And, with the relatively complex thoughts and dilemmas strung between them as if between two landlocked kites, I wonder if it is significant that Orlando and Donal have the word ‘Or’ dividing the letters of their names?


    “‘Do you think it’s better to nearly see anything than not see it at all?’ Donal asked quietly.”

    I think I have the knack of choosing the right books to buy and review. A knack that I think would stand me in good stead if I lived in Oothangbart…
    And this book gets better and better, if that were possible. Donal’s crush on the bakery girl Miss Offering, a friend of his dreaming, with his buying bagels for their own sake rather than eat them just to talk to her. And later chewing the endearingly philosophical fat with Orlando’s brother Hutchinson, while fishing in what I assume to be a river that encircles Oothangbart…
    A potentially perfect world enticingly out of kilter with your own, that you the reader have been entrusted to rescue from its imperfections…or shoot them down from the specially erected range of such aunt sallies with the instilled purpose of your replacing them by means of a gestalt real-time review or several people’s triangulated gestalt real-time reviews, replace them with new archetypes of hope and love and quietly puckish meta-philosophical fantasy?


    “; a fellow who only sees himself in the context of the next fellow can’t see life itself.”

    This book means what it means, but now threatened? … but one FEELS that the threat will be met and conquered, whatever the muttering queues, agitation and anxiety.. But what about in our life outside this book?
    “Why must there be meaning in everything, Orlando?”
    Well, that’s my raison d’être when doing gestalt real-time reviews, whatever the cost, in the hope that whatever I find in a book or compare it to will transcend our own ills. Particularly LATER TODAY when Trump is inaugurated. This book’s ‘Trumpet-time’ now truly impends?
    I recently read this somewhere; please forgive the Goveish source! –>
    “Mr Gove described Mr Trump’s conversational style as being like a river in spate, adding: ‘You throw pebbles into it and sometimes there are eddies and currents and from that you can read what it is that he wants.'”
    And why is poor Donal saddled with a name so similar to Donald’s, I ask, too?
    And what is it that Donal et al have seen in Oothangbart’s river – something nasty that makes the fish fly out of it? I dread to think. I dream to think.
    ‘The Terror’, it is called in the book. ‘The Intrusion’, too. The sky has indeed slipped. The sky no longer has glorious pareidolia. “flummoxed and ridiculous”
    For the nonce, at least. MIss Offering.’s bagels, notwithstanding.

    “…the whole of Oothangbart could be in danger.”


    “I would suggest that The Intrusion came about because something has happened to distort the bottom of the river,…”

    An engaging, slightly self-mocking account of ‘what we do about this intrusion’ mixed with past waking dreams about going into the hills and leaving Oothangbart – and the phenomenon of the sudden rather than the expected with regard to civilisation proper…
    Cleanses the palate somewhat after yesterday’s real-time events in our own world.

    “Then how how can we do a thing when we don’t know what it is we want to do?”


    “I’d say ‘where are you going over and over again, and they’d cry out over there, over there, over there,’ until the sound of it was like the distant calling of birds in the high clouds.”

    Amid the baps and bagels of Miss Offering, Donal at last has a proper conversation with her. There is something so deadpan poignant, something yearningly so Bristol beyond the edge of this novel, not Trump’s doubtless yearning (in our real world outside the novel) for a pair of Bristols, not just one, but something memorably idyllic here in Oothangbart that i have just been entranced — only for my mood to be broken by the committee meetings including meetings inside meetings and their bureaucracy to decide what to do and when and with what, so as to cope with The Intrusion. There was so much being said and going on, so many characters, I broke my pencil when making my usual underlinings and marginalia in the book! No joke.
    For me, this work deserves – and will definitely receive – the praise and attention it has not had so far.


    “‘Make a wall on the nearside bank, just in case there is danger.’
    ‘A wall?’ Agnew sniggered. ‘A wall?'”

    11 is the perfect description of something that needs to be described.
    It also involves tantalising yearning yielding quests for the Postal Fellow and the use of Sealing Wax where, in our own world, with the Internet, there is growing less need of both! (I expect soon a sighting of my own yieldingtree to quench any unrequited love or to shorten any bakery queues.)
    The exponential growth, meanwhile, of this book’s own descriptions is manifest. Including the solving of one problem with another problem – like creating a palimpsest of the attendance crowds at two different inaugurations?

  9. I had dozing, waking and sleeping dreams about this book last night. The Post Fellow. The Pillar Box on the book’s spine with its wide-brimmed hat….
    Also, I seemed obsessed about death or deliverance in this quest for this Post Felllow, a loop that Donal is following from one to the other and back again? Not sure that theme is in the book itself…


    Indeed, as opposed to recent ‘alternative facts’!?
    Donal or Lando indulge in what I call barrack-room philosophy but points of philosophy that have an endearing charm and a layman’s instinct for the ‘power of thought.’ The simplicity of thought and of naive truth that if anywhere is going to embody such things, that will be Oothangbart itself, I suggest. Despite the arguments and other moments of attrition that The Intrusion has brought with it, including the ripples in the river.
    Meanwhile, now that Donal’s hoarded bagels have been seen in his shed, how better build this story’s wall or even Trump’s Wall I say! (I say that despite believing that this novel would have been written well before Trump-time or even Trumpet-time came to the full notice of world history. This novel was first published in July 2016 after a long period of writing it I guess, and he won the US election only a month or two ago.)

  11. img_281215 A COLUMN OF BAGELS

    “These are terrible times. The flags are all knotted,…”

    Much thought about thinking ideas and when to act upon ideas – upon the point of first thinking them good ideas being perhaps the consensus. My idea about using Donal’s ‘unrequited love’ bagels for the wall seems now to have been premature as the committee of characters has the idea now and quickly replaces it with using them as a column for holding up the sagging skies to prevent the ‘fish’ thinking they can now use the sky instead of the river. But put such a column where? The possible repercussions fill me with poignancy.
    And which came first, the book’s subtitle or my sudden (yes, sudden) idea during the reading of these chapters of the realised nature of these Oothangbartians!
    And we also need to deal with the bifurcated nature of lies after Trump’s “alternative facts” earlier this week?

    “Then the bagel column is just another illusion, and will never be built.”


    “He wondered if Orlando was still at the shed, or if the bagels had been taken to Circle Square. He tried not to think of Pearl.”

    You see, Circle Square is near Pearl Offering’s bakery…
    This is the most poignant, yearning, yielding, unrequited work of fiction I have ever read (at least so far) … and you can take that as you wish. And, if you also wish, you may read my very short story THE TALLEST KING first published in the late 1980s.
    And to know the Post Fellow does not live in the Postbox that is in the spine of this book is something like Muddle Street itself. And Hutchinson’s view of Bristol, too, whether it exists or it does not exist beyond the eponymous environs of this book is also better than anything I can think of in this real world where I think I am reading this marvellous book. Does not bear scrutiny, in Nutwood OR Oothangbart…
    How do you know things? Make them up as you go along, someone in this book advises.

    “Things are random. Everything is random. What happens in life is random.”

    “Well, suppose you didn’t find it, it still wouldn’t mean it didn’t exist, just that you never reached it.”

  13. 19 [redacted]

    “He thought of his tiny kitchen with its sloping floor and his eyes pricked with tears.”

    Donal braves departure via a vast pit and whence and whereto and backto he does go only you the reader can know. Rest assured, this is quietly transcendent literature and I genuinely, even more than genuinely In a new sincerity bred by this book itself, believe this is a major new-archetypal, beyond allegorical or fabulous, work that needs urgent attention by those not yet in the know about it.
    Donal’s rite of passage is Oothangbart’s too, its bureaucracies and strictures part of a pattern intrinsic to that journey, as well as its naively excitable population’s reactions to us as well as to themselves – and intrinsic to their destiny, too.
    Only one letter different divides Donal from the jiggery-pokery wicked Donald, and the former’s deserved requitedness is in sight, each brick in a wall a sign of love not hate.
    I have been enraptured in the last week or two by this book. And I hope I shall be allowed to play the Postal Fellow when the book is eventually screened or staged. – as it will be … but never as good as the book itself – though someone needs to go out sooner rather than later to curate the costumes ready for its first performance because such costumes will be difficult to amass, even one by one. Ad infinitum.



  14. Pingback: Oothangbart, a Subversive Fable for Adults and Bears - Rebecca Lloyd

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s