Thursday, December 07, 2006


I finished Rory Stewart's The Places in Between and loved it, and I'll write about it soon, but I'm too tired right now. The book does remind me of how fond I am of walking and particularly of going on epic walks (Rory Stewart walks across Afghanistan in the winter through the mountains).

I just came across this article from the New York Times about how the novelist Will Self walked from Kennedy airport to Manhattan -- about 20 miles -- rather than taking a cab. He flew to New York from Heathrow and he didn't take a cab to Heathrow either; he walked there from his home, about 26 miles. He wanted to do the New York walk because:

It would take him through parts of the city that most people never notice while driving in a car: an experience that Mr. Self, a student of psycho-geography, believes has imposed a “windscreen-based virtuality” on travel, cutting us off from experiencing our own topography.

“People don’t know where they are anymore, “he said, adding: “In the post-industrial age, this is the only form of real exploration left. Anyone can go and see the Ituri pygmy, but how many people have walked all the way from the airport to the city?”

I'm not quite sure what "psycho-geography" is, although it sounds interesting. I like his idea a lot -- that the best adventures available today are those we can experience in near-by places, if we just get outside and actually experience them.

I've written before about how much I liked Rebecca Solnit's book Wanderlust, a history of walking. Does anybody know of other good books about walking -- either theoretical/historical ones, or stories of long walks? I know of Bill Bryson's book A Walk in the Woods, and Dark Orpheus mentioned Bruce Chatwin's book Songlines as one that would interest me. Others? I haven't read enough contemporary travel writing, and this is one form of it that particularly interests me.

More on Rory Stewart tomorrow ...