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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real, 29 Jun. 2014
This review is from: On Walking: - And Stalking Sebald (Paperback)
Books on walking: so many are what this one isn’t; “pseudo-treks for subsequent publication”. If I may be a little rude and mention the popular “The Old Ways” by Robert Macfarlane -a book I did enjoy - BUT - there are always going to be pre-arranged meetings with “interesting” people - people who can sail boats along ancient bronze-age routes: people who can use their teeth to carve figurines of the earth goddess out of flint and Neolithic sausages. Smith, however, drifts - he drifts a coastline of melancholia, beneath a looming nuclear power station, staying in b&b’s, talking and walking, and sometimes wandering through suburbia, surrounded by people, but seeing no-one. So he meets people just as interesting - and just as ordinary as you or me - and he winds up in a cellar beneath an old abattoir, “This is not a room. The blood is not in the river, the blood is here, on the floor of the cellar, dried in the dents, this is a room of meat and blood, four years of killing, we are up to our ankles in offal, I don’t know what I set out to find, but it is here, the change of quantity that changes quality, the place and time when numbers turn into a human being, a few scraps of story into a myth, a middle-aged baby drenched in rubedo.”
In-spit of some of his references being beyond me, Guy Debord, Situationists, Derivistes and wotnot, Smith is always real; tangible and unpretentious. He misses his mum, who recently died, and this sense of loss recurs throughout the book as it plays on his mind as he walks. There is a dreary stretch of walking when his mind - trudge trudge - dwells on old humiliations- a long ago spurned declaration of love (after which he fell down a man hole) - trudge trudge - a regretted and unresolved falling out with a friend - trudge trudge - the reality of all this communicates - common ground - the book is never an exercise in narcissism.
All the time there is a freshness of vision, a conscious framing of experiences. “Art” self-consciously puts vision into boxes - commodifies it for external and distanced examination. Smith transgresses the boundaries of art, as he makes us question our acceptance of the culturally determined orderings of history and geography we can so easily take for granted. He helps us stay alive, curious and awake.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm on my second read ... thanks, 19 Nov. 2014
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Dr. David Woods "The Holcus Effect" (East Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: On Walking: - And Stalking Sebald (Paperback)
Strange that the publishers hide the Sebald sub-title until the inside page. Is Max all that off-putting? Loved this book. I'm on my second read already. The post-Max sensibilities of tone and image bring lots of pleasure. Thanks
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, emotional, engaging, 9 Feb. 2015
This review is from: On Walking: - And Stalking Sebald (Paperback)
I found this book moving, insightful and inspiring. Most of all, it felt honest all the way through. It's easy for this kind of material to become pretentious, yet Phil Smith always avoids that with his directness, sometimes quite painful, and his insistence on walking ahead no matter what. I very much admired it and will read it again.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The art of walking explored in series of essays. Exhilarating and potentially life changing., 24 Jun. 2014
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Gregory Baser "zeek portian" (Plymouth, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: On Walking: - And Stalking Sebald (Paperback)
Trying to understand the simple relationship between art and ambulation is explored, exploited, encouraged and given some explanation. Makes you walk and think differently. Makes you find art and life in the most unlikely of places.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IF YOU LIKE SEBALD AND SINCLAIR YOU'LL REALLY ENJOY THIS, 31 May 2014
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This review is from: On Walking: - And Stalking Sebald (Paperback)
Great tone and content , this book is full of tangents that would keep Lawrence Sterne delighted. Go and buy it.
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On Walking: - And Stalking Sebald
On Walking: - And Stalking Sebald by Phil Smith (Paperback - 22 April 2014)
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