‘Walk,’ was my answer, ‘I definitely must, to invigorate myself and to maintain contact with the living world…. Without walking, I would be dead’. ~ Robert Walser, The Walk
I’m taking a different route today, with a review of a lovely little novella, Walking with Walser. Set in modern day Toronto, it’s an adaptation of Swiss writer Robert Walser’s World War I-era tale, The Walk. Author Daphne Gordon, a self-professed flâneuse, describes it as a meditation on city living. If you’re not familiar with the idea of a flâneuse (or flâneur), you can read an interesting article about it via the link in her About me page.
Walking with Walser is the satirical account of an eccentric writer’s adventures. The central character, Ursula, is outspoken, hilarious and heartwarming. She wanders along Queen Street West, with stops at familiar shops and parks, all the way to City Hall. Her interactions highlight some of our society’s pressing issues. Art and culture, traffic and transit (ah, the 501 Queen Streetcar), mental health and local government. All told in a humorous way.
It’s an easy but engaging read, and an inspiration to enjoy an urban stroll. Having walked the same streets many times, I found it particularly enjoyable.
And, Mother Nature, please help me to be constantly mindful of the goodness and simplicity of walking on foot, provided one is, of course, wearing flats.
~ Daphne Gordon, Walking with Walser
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