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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Wurd

Chris Wilson

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To purchase The Wurd

Title: The Wurd
Author: Chris Wilson
Genre: Novel
Written: 1995
Length: 258 pages
Availability: The Wurd - US
The Wurd - UK
The Wurd - Canada

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Our Assessment:

B : accomplished, but style can be annoying

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Guardian . 3/10/1996 Nicholas Lezard
New Statesman & Society A 25/8/1995 John Clute
TLS C- 6/10/1995 Gerald Woodward

  From the Reviews:
  • "This is a strange, bollixed, brilliant poem of a book." - John Clute, New Statesman & Society

  • "The muddy language stifles much of what would otherwise be some fine writing with a number of highly comic moments The Wurd is let down by its special effects." - Gerard Woodward, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Wurd is set some thirty-five thousand years ago. The novel is largely centered around the discovery of language. The clever writer and accomplished stylist Chris Wilson would seem just right for such an undertaking. In large part he is. However, he has chosen to write the novel in a sort of phonetic English that, while generally conforming to modern grammar and usage, does not conform to our spelling. See, e.g. the title. Perhaps it makes the reader read more attentively, paying greater heed to the sound of the language. We just found it annoying. Incredibly annoying. Really, really annoying.
       The tale is narrated by Gob. He's been called many things in his time on earth, but his is now the "oldest gob on Urf,", so Gob is good enough. He is old and lame by now, and the book is of his relating history ("Hystery") to Blind.
       He tells of a world before the word. Language is the key, he and all the others recognize:

(W)e cum dumb for Talk an ignorant for Trewf. An no sooner we spoke our mouffull, an heard an earfull, then evrything gets going crazy, restless an moody, shifty an wind, flowy as waters, fickle an fierce as fire.
    Wisdum lay at the roots of it. Langwij wur its trunk.
       Wilson covers a lot of prehistory and the making of man here. Always clever, he weaves a fair story, mixing wit and wisdom. He also has a fine ear and, except for the atrocious spelling, this is a very well written book. The language is, in large part, even poetic. But the presentation is off-putting.
       Worthwhile, but annoying.

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Chris(topher) Wilson: Other books by Chris Wilson under Review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Contemporary British fiction

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About the Author:

       English author Chris Wilson was born November 18, 1949 in London. He received his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. He has worked as a research psychologist and was lecturer at Goldsmiths' College, University of London. He is the author of a number of novels, including Baa, Fou, and Gallimauf's Gospel.

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