7.9

Geoff Nicholson

The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science and Literature of Pedestrianism [Riverhead]

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Geoff Nicholson
Rambling foot notes

Geoff Nicholson’s latest encyclopedic investigation into an ordinary activity (Sex Collectors was his last) is a strolling, strutting, occasionally limping look at bipedalism. A droll Brit, the author is Bill Bryson with better legs and less interest in walking—or narrating—along straight lines.

Drifting from pop culture to esoteric philosophy—Samuel L. Jackson occupies the same page as Pontius Pilate, John Cale—Nicholson looks for meaning in what can be a literally “brainless activity.” If striding alongside Christina Ricci and  obscure “psychogeographer” Iain Sinclair fails to give the activity complete meaning, Nicholson walks on because, well, it makes him happy.

The author certainly sweated (and bled) for this book. He pounded the pavement in two of the world’s best walking cities, New York and London, and a less heralded one, Los Angeles. His sacrifice compels us to follow him through the barren stretches. As Thomas A. Clark wrote, even “a dull walk is not without value.”

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