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Smith, Phil, On Walking... and Stalking Sebald: A guide to going beyond wandering around looking at stuff (Axminster: Triarchy Press, 2014).

To get started - choose a foot.

Phil Smith of Wrights & Sites' fame (and otherwise known as Crab Man, Mytho and Anton Vagus) is not the first to walk in the footsteps of W.G. Sebald, whose The Rings of Saturn is an account a walk round Suffolk 20 years ago.

What is remarkable is that Phil's own walk was quite as extraordinary as Sebald's and that he matches Sebald's erudition, originality and humour swathe for swathe.

On one level On Walking... describes an actual, lumbering walk from one incongruous B&B to the next, taking in Dunwich, Lowestoft, Southwold, Covehithe, Orford Ness, Sutton Hoo, Bungay, Halesworth and Rendlesham Forest - with their lost villages, Cold War testing sites, black dogs, white deer and alien trails.

On a second level it sets out a kind of walking that the author has been practising for many years and for which he is quietly famous. It's a kind of walking that burrows beneath the guidebook and the map, looks beyond the shopfront and the Tudor facade and feels beneath the blisters and disgruntlement of the everyday. Those who try it report that their walking [and their whole way of seeing the world] is never quite the same again. And the Suffolk walk described in this book is an exemplary walk, a case study - this is exactly how to do it.

Finally, on a third level, On Walking... is an intellectual tour de force, encompassing Situationism, alchemy, jouissance, dancing, geology, psychogeography, 20th century cinema and old TV, performance, architecture, the nature of grief, pilgrimage, World War II, the Cold War, Uzumaki, pub conversations, synchronicity, somatics and the Underchalk.


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Studies in Travel Writing (journal)
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