the observer Sun 23 November 2008
Phil is short, weak and freshly divorced. He finds his new maybe-girlfriend Bertha irresistible, but unfortunately she comes with a six-foot-something bouncer husband who hits her for fun. He writes novels that Bertha finds boring - actually, a lot of people think his work falls well short of brilliance (Germaine Greer dismisses it as 'a shallow male fantasy that didn't add up to a novel'). But who can blame him: his acquaintances pop in and out at alarmingly convenient intervals and say things like: 'I wouldn't have believed it myself if I didn't know that form and emptiness are the same.' Russell Hoban certainly relishes a good spot of mindless postmodernism. His latest effort is profoundly silly, but that shouldn't bother true fans.