“Why travel?” asks Tomas Espedal in Tramp, “Why not just stay at home, in your room, in your house, in the place you like better than any other, your own place. The familiar house, the requisite rooms in which we have gathered the things we need, a good bed, a desk, a whole pile of books. The windows giving on to the sea and the garden with its apple trees and holly hedge, a beautiful garden, growing wild.” The first step in any trip or journey is always a footstep—the brave or curious act of putting one foot in front of the other and stepping out of the house onto the sidewalk below. Here, Espedal contemplates what this ambulatory mode of travel has meant for great artists and thinkers, including Rousseau, Kant, Hazlitt, Thoreau, Rimbaud, Whitman, Giacometti, and Robert Louis Stevenson. In the process, he confronts his own inability to write from a fixed abode and his refusal to banish the temptation to become permanently itinerant.
Lyrical and rebellious, immediate and sensuous, Tramp entertainingly conveys Espedal’s own need to explore on foot—in places as diverse as Wales and Turkey—and offers us the excitement and adventure of being a companion on his fascinating and intriguing travels.
“Even as his fame has grown in his native Norway, the range of what Tomas Espedal writes about has shrunk. Instead of an ever-expanding autobiographical space in which to tell his life story, Espedal’s project is more of a paring-down, an endlessly repeated return to a single scene. In Tramp: Or the Art of Living a Wild and Poetic Life, Espedal journeys on foot to places like Germany, Wales, Greece, and Turkey, meeting a host of interesting figures along the way. . . . In establishing the silent context of family and home, Espedal brings to the foreground a past that is far more distant and not as clear-cut as the travels he explicitly relates. Chronological time and authorial distance give way to a personal history that is at once more primordial, and in its way, more poetic. Espedal’s memoir thus becomes an especially vivid and deeply satisfying account of a ’wild and poetic life.’”—David M. Smith, Contrary
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