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3.54  ·  Rating details ·  3,676 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
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 ulti
Paperback, 435 pages
Published March 5th 1992 by Sphere (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30)
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Thomas Strömquist
The great racer Stirling Moss claimed that there are two things a man will never admit he does badly, drive and make love. Which is a strange irony, because most people are not particularly good at either.

Ben Elton, however, is surely an exceptional writer. The last book I read of him, Past Mortem, I loved to bits and I still haven't found one that is not a recommended read.

Gridlock has most of the qualities I have come to expect, but it is a bit too confused to claim a place among his top ones
May 21, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Chris Leib
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Damien Hanrahan
Very informative and a scary notion of where our car-mad culture is heading, the sooner they are banned the better in my opinion, also quite funny at times
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ending was really annoying. very abrupt. A gruesome. I understand it's a 25 yr old book but I don't ever remember London like this. Everyone I knew growing up took the Tube. Bit preachy as well.
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nicola Mcfall
Jun 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephanie Augustin
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
Clare Hudson
Jan 03, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Had to give up on this one, which I really hate doing.
It started out really well - had me laughing out loud, literally - but then it all got a bit confusing TBH and I sort of lost the plot and just felt it was getting silly. 1st book of 2016 and I've had to abandon it :(

"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
Jayne Charles
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Matt John
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime, humour
The story, written over twenty years ago, is still very much relevant today. As is common with Elton's earlier works, Gridlock is a sarcastic and humourous comment on the modern western world. Very few writers could combine three dimensional characters, including a "spastic" cerebral-palsy man, a closeted homosexual politician and wheelchair-bound strong willed woman, to create a story that is funny and thought-provoking, without being offensive. As with all Elton's work, Gridlock is a comment o ...more
Oct 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-criticism
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
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sara Eames
This is on ok book - I think Ben Elton has written much better ones (Dead Famous, Chart Throb and High Society to name 3). The chief problem is that the characters are simply unlikeable - most of them have very little in the way of redeeming features. Also, the further you get into the book, the more unlikely the situation becomes - until you reach the point that you have to totally suspend any ounce of credibility in order to finish the book. Sorry to be so negative, but that is my opinion of t ...more
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: physical
A tragic comic depiction of environmentalism in the early 1990s. At least the British canal system has had a good revival since this was written, though more for tourists than heavy industry. This and Stark make quite a pair. After the end of the previous Tory government in 1997 Ben Elton seems to be keeping a lower profile. Time for a return?
Jan 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 24, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 08, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Karine Whitton
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not funny.

This novel tries so terribly hard to be another “Hitchhiker’s Guide” but the humor has no depth whatsoever. Elton mistakes silly word play for actual comedy and after a few pages it becomes stale quickly.

I try to push on, but with each page the style grates. A pale imitation of other works and not worth my time.
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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.
Ingmar De vries
Sep 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious! Again Ben Elton makes me read a setting that at first I don't like as much. Even the protagonist of the story does little to appeal to me, even more so annoy me. Such is the magic that is his writing; halfway through I found this book hard to put down! Highly entertaining with twists and turns that I did not always expect.
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.
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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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“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” 3 likes
“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”
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