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Posts Tagged "‘Pippa’s Progress’":

‘Pippa’s Progress’ by Simon Parke

I picked up this book in the naïve expectation that it would be a light-hearted take on Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, perhaps combined with Swiftian satire on the way we live now. Only 175 pages long, I anticipated a rapid and enjoyable read.  Had I known more about Simon Parke, I would have known in advance that, while it was indeed that, the book is both more beguiling and more difficult to stand aside from or to escape than you might imagine.

But first, the fun part. I really enjoyed the puns and the allegorical names, as in Bunyan’s version. I don’t want to spoil your fun by listing them all here, so perhaps I can take the twelfth stage, the City of Socialmeja, as an example. Here, Pilgrim’s guide is a young woman called Dee Straction as they go through this ‘gleaming city teaming with life’. Dee explains:

‘it’s where we’re all, like, connected with every one and every thing!’…’So I’m talking to you, sure’ said Dee, ‘total attention and all that, but I’m also texting a friend, tweeting my whereabouts to my 476 followers, checking my Facebook page, watching a film and trying to rent a house with some friends – all at the same time on this little gizmo!

Of course I laughed, as will you. But I also had a slightly uncomfortable feeling – surely I couldn’t be like Dee Straction? Could I? And it is like that throughout Pilgrim’s peregrinations.

In some ways, Pippa’s journey is rather like those strategy games which you can play online – or on your own computer (the 2012 versions of Dungeons and Dragons for example). And in places we think we can see where she has taken the wrong move, with disastrous results. But,  as in a  pantomime, Pippa is deaf to our cries of ‘look out behind you!’ She needs to make her own mistakes, just as in real life.

Rather like Pippa, I found my own journey of discovery would make demands on me and invite me to answer deceptively simple questions before being able to proceed from one stage to the next. Perhaps you are more evolved than I or the other human beings who surround you, but for me these moments came thick and fast as I went through the book.


Simon Parke, whose style makes the book easy to read from a purely stylistic point of view, offers a series of soundbites on the meaning of life. You can attempt to dismiss these aphorisms as comparable to Chinese fortune cookies, but they are more like the Tardis, containing more material for contemplation than you would imagine possible seen only from the outside. Some examples:

There’s always company on the journey, but you travel alone. 

You have to find happiness in yourself. You cannot expect someone to bring it to your door. That never works. 

I allowed myself to become defined by another person, which is never a good idea. 




I have no hesitation in recommending ‘Pippa’s Progress’ as a thoroughly good read.


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