A read that is like walking

2010-10-20 00:00

I FOUND this book, which Miller submitted for a Master’s degree in writing from Wits, much like walking itself. Sometimes you pass areas that you enjoy, perhaps stopping to admire a garden or enjoy a view. Other spots are less appealing and you move past them faster. Sometimes you take a short cut to miss particular places altogether.

The neat division of interviews as chapters means that you can choose a route through this text like you choose a walking route. You may dawdle on stories you enjoy, skim less-appealing ones and ignore others completely.

As a regular walker, I set out keenly on my journey through this book. Heartened by the first chapter about conscientious objector David Bruce, whose story I followed in the papers of the day, I settled into a regular pace expecting an enjoyable experience.

Unfortunately, much like walking in an unattractive urban setting, the reading became tedious with “MOS” — more of same — the recurring themes of crime and why some choose not to learn to drive or own a car. I started to skim, and then, I have to confess, to skip chapters altogether.

However, in addition to the interview with David Bruce, I did find the insights on some subjects fascinating and instructive, like those of author Phaswane Mpe, shooting victim Dex, and academic Leon de Kok. Their comments not about walking, but about life, spirituality and other weighty matters, rendered worthwhile the sustained effort required to stick with the book and not give up — a bit like a challenging walk.

It’s not entirely negative that I didn’t particularly enjoy this book, since it means there will be many others who will. Readers as well as publishers can rejoice that books and the reading public are so diverse, just like the experience of walking.

Julia Denny-Dimitriou

Julia on twitter.

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