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Republic of Consciousness Prize > 2020 RoC longlist: Patience

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message 1: by Paul (last edited Jan 25, 2020 12:21PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8756 comments Patience by Toby Litt (Galley Beggar Press)

From the judges:

The title of this book has an ongoing power unlike most others: for reader and protagonist alike, patience is our watchword as this sweet, canny, severely disabled boy uses his limited resources to express his extensive, smart and subtle appreciation of the world and the people who come into his orbit. With some of the dark but also deeply compassionate hilarity of Stanley Elkin, this is a work of brilliant control and necessary humanity.

message 2: by Paul (last edited Jan 25, 2020 11:50AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8756 comments Seemed a shame/odd at first that this wasn't the Galley Beggar book selected for last year's Goldsmiths Prize.

However, it was (as are a quite large number of books that would otherwise be contenders) ineligible due to the author's connection with the University.

Fortunately this is a UEA-linked prize, they seem keen on supporting Norwich based publishers, and this excellent novel gets the recognition it deserves.

message 3: by WndyJW (last edited Jan 25, 2020 09:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

WndyJW | 4869 comments I love this book. It’s personal to me because my just turned 15 yr old granddaughter has cerebral palsy, although not spastic CP like Elliott. Our Madi can’t walk, but she does get around by alternating balancing on one leg and swinging the other; she can barely write her name, but nothing else and can’t count past 5, but she has a wicked sense of humor and the ability to laugh at herself. She is truly a funny girl. She always asks everyone in the family if they had a good day or how they slept, she has boyfriend (who refuses to accept her insistence that he is her boyfriend,) but her true love is Justin Bieber. I often wonder what became locked in her brain when it was deprived of oxygen at birth. There is so much she can’t do, but often she will say something that takes all of us by surprise and makes us think she knows more than we know. My daughter, her mom, took Madi to the assisted living building to visit my friend’s 92 yr old mother this weekend and Madi was delighted with the older patients in wheelchairs and walkers, exclaiming that they are so cute! Naturally her delight in the residents was returned by their delight in her so we have now found a way for Madi to help others, something she always wants to do.

Patience is heartwarming, heartbreaking, funny, and ultimately a testament to the value of every life and the idea that everyone has something to contribute.

I bought two copies of this book to donate anonymously to the teacher’s reading library at our local school for disabled kids and Galley Beggar sent along a 3rd when I told them what the 2 were for. Everyone should read this beautiful book.

Neil | 1885 comments I found this book completely engrossing. Very hard to put down.

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8756 comments I do wonder if the G Beggar historic success in award may count against this, otherwise I would make it the favourite.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments Well I have to support this book having listed it in the Guardian's year-end readers review (I use the name Mr Brown there)

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments Some observations from my review .........


The imagery in this passage will I think stay with me long after most books I have read this year are but vague memories.

Worship me mummy. Every child is Jesus for a while but every orphan is a single piece from a jigsaw puzzle the rest of which is somewhere else and so wherever it is is itself entirely ruined and frustrating … but the piece of the picture on that jigsaw piece may only be cloud-edge and sky or artificial blue and the orphan will spend useless hours of years of hours worrying over what complete painting or photograph they should form part of. I have seen in front of the doors of the lift as they finally closed I have seen little Jesuses be turned by the gap becoming a dark slit and a number counting down from 3 to 0 turned straight into jigsaw pieces I have seen and then heard them start crying as sons and daughters and finish crying as orphans


It is hard not to be reminded though in Elliott’s life of this list: (re ordered to fit the novel): self-control (of his mind, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, love (for Jim), finally joy (at the book’s end) and of course (throughout) patience.


It says everything about the power of this novel that its most beautifully transcendent moment occurs with Elliott bleeding and dazed, tipped off his wheelchair and lying in a urine stained layby.

message 8: by WndyJW (last edited Jan 26, 2020 09:54AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

WndyJW | 4869 comments Beautifully said, GY. This is a book I will reread.

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
Yes to all of the above. I couldn't even talk about this one. I just loved it - I actually fell asleep hugging it the night I finished.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 5395 comments What a lovely image.

Robert | 1995 comments My review:

to cut a long story short, I got the feels multiple times when reading Patience, the beatles scene, the first time the boys communicate. I laughed and that ending is cinematic.

basically you've got a semiotic thesis here

message 12: by Ang (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ang | 1685 comments I saw that Patience is being compared as similar to Leonard and Hungry Paul in the L&HP thread. I am not very far along yet but I disagree with that assessment as I didn't like L&HP and this seems a completely different book in style and subject matter (thank goodness).

It reminds me of Pilcrow by Adam Mars Jones in style, other than the lack of punctuation within paragraphs. I am not convinced that is necessary and I am not convinced it works very well but I supposed it gets it marked out as "different" which is important for some prizes. Elliott is highly intelligent and relating a story so I don't agree with the style. I find that after a while in one sitting I start skim reading without meaning to. I will perservere because I think it will be a good book otherwise, and if its similarity to Pilcrow holds up, I will be more than pleased.

message 13: by Hugh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3164 comments Mod
I don't have much to add to this discussion, but I loved Patience too.
My Review

message 14: by Paul (last edited Jan 31, 2020 04:46AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8756 comments The prize's blog is adding a dedicated piece on each book. First up, a 2019 judge on Patience (or more precisely the author of Patience):


LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 565 comments This was a beautiful story. I am so glad to have learned about it here and to have read it.

WndyJW | 4869 comments I loved it. It makes me think that Toby Litt must be an awfully nice man.

message 17: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val | 1016 comments I was going to wait until the short list was announced and just buy those on it (other than the two I bought last year and have already read), but everyone here likes this one so much that I decided to get it anyway.

message 18: by Ella (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
Val wrote: "everyone here likes this one so much that I decided to get it anyway."

It's hard to imagine you hating it or feeling like you were somehow duped. It's a rather wonderful book, and I hope it makes the shortlist.

message 19: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 8756 comments I seem to have triggered a RoC playlist Twitterstorm (well more a mild drizzle):

Playlist for this book

Also a Beatles list the author used for his reference while writing:

message 20: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val | 1016 comments Ella wrote: "It's hard to imagine you hating it or feeling like you were somehow duped. It's a rather wonderful book, ..."
I'm sure you're right Ella.
I have nearly thirty books left over from last year I was intending to polish off before buying more, but this one, Strange Hotel and a kindle deal-of-the-day on Anything is Possible were difficult to resist.

WndyJW | 4869 comments I love the Patience playlist. Tusen Tankar is very moving.

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