Yes, that says “Preview”. The book does not yet exist. I don’t know exactly when it will exist or if Walking to Listen will even be its title. But I am confident that it will exist and that it will be worth reading.
In a recent blog post, I told how, when I travel, I quickly get behind on the RSS feeds I subscribe to. The same thing happens to the few podcasts that I follow. Heck, I even get behind on them when I don’t travel. So I am seriously behind on This American Life. So much behind that yesterday, October, 15, I listened to the program from May 3. My timing was perfect.
It was a three act program named “Hit the Road”. Act one was “The Slowest Distance Between Between Two Points” which was Andrew Forsthoefel’s story. Andrew had walked across the country, from Philadelphia to the San Francisco, covering 4000 miles in eleven months. He wore a sign bearing the phrase “Walking to Listen” and that is what he did. He met lots of people and he listened to them. He recorded lots of what he heard. From that he produced a one hour audio program that can be heard here. In some regards, the This American Life program is a trimmed down version. It can be heard here.
I was walking when I listened to the podcast and I suppose that might have had a tiny bit to do with my liking of the podcast but only a very tiny bit. The idea of seeing the USA through its people is always intriguing and that’s what Andrew was doing with his walk. He was twenty-three years old and he was asking people what advice they might give to a twenty-three year old version of themselves. Listening to some of the answers was intriguing to the extreme. So too was Andrew’s commentary recorded both during and after the walk.
Near the end of the program the host, Ira Glass, shared information about the one hour program and also mentioned that a book was in the works. When I got home, I listened to the longer audio program and I visited Andrew’s website at WalkingToListen.com. There are pictures there and more information about the walk and a blog. Andrew started the blog about two weeks into the walk. I haven’t read the entire thing but it looks as if he posted every few days during the walk and mentioned everyone he had recently talked to. Thanked them, actually. After the walk, the entries slowed, as they should, to a trickle. The most recent was posted on October 14; The day before I first heard the podcast and the second anniversary of the walk’s beginning. In addition to noting the anniversary, the post announced that Houghton Mifflin had picked up the book. As I said, my timing was perfect. I’ve subscribed to Andrew’s blog and will be anxiously watching for a publication date.
The picture at the top of this post was taken by Andrew’s mother as he set off to walk and listen. I hope neither she nor Andrew are too angry at me for snitching it.