Treacle Walker – Alan Garner


❝ I will admit that I struggled to understand the meaning or plot of Treacle Walker. It is a novella with very few words, some of which are old-fashioned, nonsense, rhyme and riddles, only a few characters and a fragile plot.

I had to resort to Google searches to understand it better 😦 It is about a boy named Joe whose lazy eye and eye patch symbolise his innocence, youthfulness and his pure outlook on life. He wants to get his vision fixed but a peddler, Treacle Walker, appears as his spirit guide, apprehensive of him establishing a more advanced outlook on reality. Comic characters come to life; a second version of Joe lives in a dream world; a figure named Thin Amren lives in a bog and calls to Joe encouraging him to ‘see’.

The book contains references to ghostly worlds, comic book history, quantum physics, folklore and fairies, innocence and many other features. Yet Garner has included all this and stripped away the words until the purity of only the essential ones remain.

I have come to realise how much meaning there is behind every word in this book and what an incredible job Garner has done has at creating a pure form of literature. I’m sure Garner fans and literati would be awe-struck with what he has achieved, but I maintain this is not a book that would have wide appeal due to its complexities. – Rachel

“Treacle Walker?” said Thin Amren. “Treacle Walker? Me know that pickthank psychopomp? I know him, so I do. I know him. Him with his pots for rags and his bag and bone and his doddering nag, and nookshotten cart and catchpenny oddments. Treacle Walker? I’d not trust that one’s arse with a fart.”

❝ I was completely flummoxed by this book. Rag and bone man, marbles, poor eyesight, cuckoo. That pretty much covers it. For it to be a Booker shortlister there’s an audience out there who ‘gets it’. Needless to say I am not part of that audience.

Following Rachel’s research I have come to believe Treacle Walker is undoubtedly a masterpiece, however without her assiduous investigation of what on earth Alan Garner was talking about this book surely remains impenetrable to most readers. – Suzy


Published 2021
Fourth Estate
150 pages

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