The Other Walk by Sven Birkerts
Essays

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Synopsis

A series of autobiographical pieces by the master of reflection and slow time

Throughout his life, Sven Birkerts, one of the country’s foremost literary critics, has carved out time for himself—to walk, to swim, to read, to contemplate. Now in his late fifties, he has clocked up many thousands of hours of reflection. It shows in his prose, which proceeds at a refreshingly deliberative pace as it draws the reader into his patterns and rhythms.

In this deeply appealing and engaging collection of essays, Birkerts looks back through his own life, as well as at the generations before him, and ahead at the lives of his children. We read how the writer witnesses his son’s frightening sailing accident, how he feels when he encounters his own prose from many years ago, how finding a cigarette lighter or a lost ring releases a cascade of memories. The objects he sees around him—old friends, remembered places—are excavated, their layers exposed.

But most winning of all is the emerging character of Birkerts himself. We come to have great respect for this competitive but deeply loyal friend, the caring father who respects his children’s independence even as he tries to connect with them, the traveler, the onetime bookseller, the writer at all stages of his writing life, and throughout it all, the attentive, passionate reader.


 

About Sven Birkerts

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Sven Birkerts is the author of eight books, including The Art of Time in Memoir, Reading Life, Readings, and The Gutenberg Elegies. He has taught at Harvard University and currently directs the Bennington Writing Seminars and is the editor of AGNI. He lives in Massachusetts.
 
Published September 13, 2011 by Graywolf Press. 191 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Other Walk

Kirkus Reviews

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With subjects including a landscape painting of his grandfather's, a reflection on the word "plunge" and how, upon a friend's death, he inherited a very fine pair of Italian leather loafers, there's no necessary order to the pieces.

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Publishers Weekly

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In 45 short pieces, noted critic and essayist Birkerts (The Gutenberg Elegies) sketches his life with an awareness that "memory does not obey time lines, but associations."

Jul 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Other Walk: Essays

New York Journal of Books

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Like Andy Warhol’s Blow Job, it would be a film centered on an essentially expressionless face.”In this rather exhaustive examination (in under 200 pages) of writers and the writing they write, Mr. Birkerts rather irritatingly forgets the writers for which writing is rather an inborn thing, invol...

Sep 13 2011 | Read Full Review of The Other Walk: Essays

City Book Review

Cluttered attics, forgotten items on top of the refrigerator, and that one item you just can’t seem to find — these mindless occurrences are what give Sven Birkerts inspiration for his essays.

Oct 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Other Walk: Essays

Portland Book Review

By the words, the beauty, but more by the revelation in the self of an awareness, a feeling, that temporarily banishes other considerations.” Memoirist and critic Sven Birkerts takes you along on a walk that he has not taken before in The Other Walk, a collection of short essays.

Mar 27 2012 | Read Full Review of The Other Walk: Essays

Bookmarks Magazine

We come to have great respect for this competitive but deeply loyal friend, the caring father who respects his children’s independence even as he tries to connect with them, the traveler, the onetime bookseller, the writer at all stages of his writing life, and throughout it all, the attentive, p...

Oct 17 2011 | Read Full Review of The Other Walk: Essays

Shelf Awareness

"It's a mistake to rarify reading and put books out of reach.

Aug 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The Other Walk: Essays

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