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3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  2,864 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Gridlock is when a city dies.

Killed in the name of freedom. Killed in the name of oil and steel. Choked on carbon monoxide and strangled with a pair of fluffy dice.

How did it come to this? How did the ultimate freedom machine end up paralysing us all? How did we end up driving to our own funeral, in somebody else's gravy train?

Deborah and Geoffrey know, but they have trans
ebook, 448 pages
Published December 26th 2008 by Transworld Digital (first published 1991)
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Ben Elton was a head of his time when he wrote this.
John Kirk
Considering that this was written 20 years ago, it's surprisingly topical now, particularly with all the concerns about peak oil. I also thought that his description of protest marches was amazingly accurate. In fact, it's a shame that he sometimes got carried away with hyperbole because that may mean that people dismiss some of his accurate points as exaggeration. Fortunately some things have improved since then, particularly wheelchair accessibility at railway stations in London.

The protagonis
Brilliant. For once, quotes by critics say the truth. This is why I used to love Ben Elton. Acerbity and spot-on observations served up in a rapid-paced story that still has plot(s) and humanity. I don't think Tom Sharpe is funny or outrageous, and it seems that Elton is the only author/comic who still manages to outrage the Brits because nowhere is there mentioned the second crucial element (apart from car and road industries) that makes this book: the hero is a CP sufferer, or spastic. His int ...more
Chris Leib
I love Ben Elton. I've followed him for 30 years, dating back to The Young Ones TV show, and have always loved his wit. Now in literary form, it perfectly matches his pathos. Granted, he can pontificate with the best of them, but I nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed this book.

The one thing about Elton is that he always keeps me on my toes - the twists and turns he throws out there are always (or almost always) a complete surprise. I never (or rarely) see them coming. I am constantly surprised when
Derek Baldwin
Dear reader: there are too many cars in the world. I shall now doodle around for 250 pages saying this same thing time and time again with a few tepid jokes thrown in. Did I mention I went to public school? Yours sincerely, Benjy
I like the humor Ben Elton writes with.
I also like the fact he holds no special place for the lead characters and they may be killed at any moment and often are.
No Hollywood endings for Ben.
Stuart Langridge

By the television comedy writer of "Blackadder" and "The Young Ones," this is an ecological disaster novel written with humor but containing an underlying seriousness. Gridlock is when a city dies. Killed in the name of freedom. Killed in the name of oil and steel. Choked on carbon monoxide and strangled with a pair of fuzzy dice. How did it come to this? How did the ultimate freedom machine end up paralyzing us all? How did we end up driving to our own funeral in somebody else's gravy t

This novel by comedian Ben Elton tackles some very controversial but prominent issues and although written in 1991, they are still just as relevant today, (although thankfully a few things have improved). Some of the issues touched on include traffic congestion, corporate greed, political corruption, the treatment of those with disabilities and the options available for those with disabilities. Somehow his novel manages to look at all these serious issues in a very humorous manner without taking ...more
I'll be frank.. I can find Ben Elton to be a bit heavy handed and preachy at times but I always do value sitting down to read one of his books. I've had to evaluate that stance as having re-read this book almost 15 years after the first time, its shocking and extremely saddening how relevant this book is today. In the time since it was written we have gotten bigger cars, a bigger hole in the ozone layer, gone to war several times over the fuel to run these things and have finally come to a crisi ...more
Alec Sillifant
At first I was finding this book pretty hard to read because of Mr Elton's stand-up comedy comments that he insisted on adding in his well known '...bit of politics...' way but either I got used to their intrusive agenda or he backed them off. Either way, after a while the story began to flow much more freely in my mind. (Maybe he has brain washed me into selling my motorbike, car, speed boat, jet-ski and private jet because I can't find four of this list in my garage any more?)

As things moved a
I am finding it really difficult to rate this book! I REALLY enjoyed parts of it but equally disliked other parts. This is the second Ben Elton book I have read and I am finding that I tend to like the subject matter but not the characters. Toss was the only remotely likable character in this novel in my opinion. However the politics and the views on cars and the greed of industry and mankind where interesting and well presented! Its also an incredibly funny book! I laughed out loud alot! The en ...more
This is the Ben Elton who started as high-end agit-prop in the Thatcher years and has ended up as smug librettist for the likes of Queen and Rod Stewart, representing everything he once affected to despise. But this is now, and Gridlock was then, a novel written when Elton was at the very height of his powers. Gridlock is a fabulous satire on transport policies under what is obviously the last Tory government (just spot the pen-portraits of Cecil Parkinson, Edwina Currie, Bernard Ingham ...) and ...more
Surprisingly, my first Ben Elton. Crazy fun, with some Wodehouse similes-type humour thrown and a dash of Tom Sharpe sass. Part of me (the part that plans weekly meals based on estimated petrol consumption) wished and hoped that hydrogen engine was real.

The political BS framing the road vs public transport argument, jokes aside, can be easily extrapolated to frame any other argument really, especially when words like 'personal rights' and 'economic scarcity' are bandied about.

Makes a ripe reread
One sentence summary: Comedic novel about how far people will go to earn money, reduce traffic jams, and save friends. The book's language is fairly simple and the story doesn't require much concentration or thought, but it was one of the rare times when I laughed out loud when reading on a plane!
Ah the fall of Ben Elton. Gridlock is the finest of his early works, hilarious and full of political satire and ecological message.

As is often commented, stick to this and the other early stuff, assume he stopped writing in the late 90's and you'll be on the right track.
Jayne Charles
Another environmentally-themed novel from Ben Elton. I remember reading it on holiday and thinking....he's being very brave with some of his portrayals of disabled people, and it could get him into bother. Sure enough when I got home I spotted him on the TV being grilled about his book by a disabled journalist who was very definitely not impressed. Not everyone's going to approve, but like I said, he was being quite brave. The humour in this book is superb....from the Global Moritz II Ghia with ...more
I found this book to be offensive and crass. I'm sure it might of digested better when it was originally released, but this book is certainly dated and cuts a fine line between cynicism and vulgarity.
An extremely funny book about a Geoffrey Spasmo who invents a hydrogen engine for his girlfriend's wheelchair. When car manufacturers and oil sheiks find out about this, they don't think twice and send agents to go steal the invention and kill Spasmo while they're at it.

The book has great observations about British society (for instance, speeches that are given at party conferences. Elton remarks that one of the party's ministers could talk absolute nonsense, copulate a dog while on stage, and s
I was surprised by this book. It has themes of disability and environment and business/politics. I am glad i read it.
Karine Whitton
Really looked at the stereotypes of disabled people head on. One particular disabled person, Deborah became the hero of the story!

The language used is a bit dated, but I could see what Ben Elton was doing. I am possibility a bit sensitive about the wrod 'spastic' since I am challenged by spasticity each day.

Anne Stewart
Read this a few times - loved it every time
poor compared to the others of his ive read, like most of his novels he has chosen a section of society and attempted to comedically dramatise the extreme result of societies failings and explore the worst possibilities of what is possible. However here i think he chose unwisely, the book is simply written with lightweight characters (apart from Geoffrey). The subject matter is also boring, traffic jams are boring and this is in essence the basis for the whole novel. Popcorn or Dead Famous are m ...more
Sally Walsh
He never fails. Fascinating idea and brilliant twist at the end.
Having read many of his other books I was slightly disappointed by this particular novel. This is not to say that I didn't enjoy it, it is just that compared to the others this one was a bit far fetched and lacking in as much humour as the others.

The first half of the novel was slow and lacking in much excitement but things started to get quite gripping towards the last 100 or so pages.

Not a serious read but would be ok as a holiday read.
Ben Elton is a lovely, funny person. This is not his best book.
It feels as though he wrote a list of issues he wanted to say something about, thought of some humour to make his point, and then wove it into a narrative. The narrative is cluttered with too many issues. The point he wants to make that he gets spot on is making our two disabled heroes brave, loveable and coping well with an unfriendly world.
Tanvir Muntasim
Who knew you could write an uproariously funny novel on traffic jams? Ben Elton does it with flair and aplomb and highlights the absurdity of considering the private car to be synonimous with a means for freedom. Crammed full of one liners that never deviate from emphasising the seriousness of the issue covered. Recommended for social conscious readers who like their reading laced with black humor.
I have never picked up a new book and author and put them down after only an hour after starting! But with Ben Elton I had to. I'm not saying it was bad, it was just not what I enjoy. It felt a bit manic and silly. It would appeal to many I am sure, otherwise he wouldn't be so successful! I am not rating this book as I don't think it would be fair.
First attempt at reading this book I couldn't get past the first couple of chapters, the story line wasn't interesting me in the slightest. When I had a break, came back and started again I found it so much easier to get into and got really into the plot. Only grumble I have against this book is the abrupt ending.
Just because words are free and there probably isn't ever going to be a world shortage, doesn't mean one should go about using them willy nilly. Way, way, way too words, Elton's books. Presumably he's being paid by the page.
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Ben Elton was born on 3 May 1959, in Catford, South London. The youngest of four, he went to Godalming Grammar school, joined amateur dramatic societies and wrote his first play at 15. He wanted to be a stagehand at the local theatre, but instead did A-Level Theatre Studies and studied drama at Manchester University in 1977.

His career as both performer and writer encompasses some of the most memo
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Dead Famous High Society Stark Popcorn Blind Faith

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“A society sufficiently sophisticated to produce the internal combustion engine has not had the sophistication to develop cheap and efficient public transport?'
‘Yes, boss... it’s true. There’s hardly any buses, the trains are hopelessly underfunded, and hence the entire population is stuck in traffic”
“New York will always seem more real than anything Britain has to offer. It is strange that, although the majority of British people have never seen a skate-boarding body-popper, an exploding fire-hydrant, or anybody dunk a doughnut, these things seem infinitely more immediate and happening images than that jar of Horlicks which has stood in the cupboard for 40 years” 2 likes
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