Wednesday, December 06, 2006
WILL SELF WALKS...And the existential Question
I come from a family of walkers. When he was young, my grandfather used to walk fifteen miles to his factory job in Boston. Then at the end of the day, he walked back. When I asked him if he was tired, he laughed.
"I was young," he'd say. "Why would I be tired?
Later, when I told that story to people, they said it was impossible. They said no one could fit thirty miles of walking and an eight hour shift at a factory in one day.
I still believe my grandfather though. When he was ninety-six, he got up early every morning, put on a white shirt and tie, and walked six miles.
When I asked him why he got dressed up to take a walk, he said it made him feel good. It made him feel that even though he was retired from the job he got when he left the factory, his day still mattered.
Anyway, I got really excited when I read this piece about Will Self today. Not only is Self a fine (and frequently hilarious) novelist, it turns out he is a mad walker too.
When he came to New York to accept an award at the National Arts Club, he walked twenty-six miles to the airport in London. Then, when he arrived in New York, he hiked from Kennedy International to his hotel, checking out the neighborhoods and stopping for a burrito along the way.
Though his latest novel about a cab driver who invents a religion hadn't really struck me as my kind of book, I think I'm going to have to give it a try.
A man who wants to discover where he is by walking its streets until
he's tired is bound to have something interesting to say.
Now for the Existential Question of the Week: Where did you walk today, and what did you see?
I'll start: I walked mostly around my house. I saw things that needed to be picked up, and occasionally I did. I saw my new art supplies, but I didn't have time to use them. Not today. And I saw the inner lives of my characters. The new novel is zipping right along. My grandfather probably wouldn't think much of my travels; Will Self either, but for me it was a good day.