Tomas Espedal’s Tramp

Reading Tomas Espedal, Tramp (Or The Art of Living a Wild and Poetic Life), always a heartbeat away from stuffing a few items into my worn leather backpack and sneaking silently towards the coast. Feeling the urge to sleep in unfamiliar hotel bedrooms and wander well-trodden footpaths through strange woods.

Tomas Espedal is a fresh discovery, in another beguiling Seagull Books edition. Espedal writes with Denton Welch’s yearning, combined with his acute observation of both people and landscape. But there is also something reminiscent of Robert Walser, perhaps in a narrative stance that avoids emotion and records the episodes of his journeys around Europe and Turkey with little or no commentary. His text only rarely attempts interpretation, a characteristic familiar to any long-distance walker.

Also familiar to the long-distance walker are the meandering digressions. Tramp mirrors the journey that a mind takes when walking fifteen, twenty miles  day, one moment self-reflective, another nostalgic, another moment lost in a train of thought about Giacometti’s mother and the artists’ s nightly visits to Parisian brothels.

I need new stout leather boots. But perhaps it is safer to turn to another of Tomas Espedal’s books than order another pair of boots.

Homesickness. It’s an inevitable part of all journeys, we’re exhausted and wish for home; the homesickness grows, strengthens and permeates every part of the body; the feet want home, the hands, the heart, the thoughts want home. We’ve had enough, seen enough, heard enough, experienced more than we can bear, and the homesickness spreads through our bodies like a lazy indifference, a lethargy that can no longer be bothered to relate to further moves and changes, meetings and places. The journey back has already begun, we think of home and are going home in our thoughts, even though we’ve still got a long journey ahead, we haven’t reached the halfway mark, but it’s as if the road has made a subtle turn, it’s rounded a bend and after that bend the direction is different; it’s treading slowly and imperceptibly back.

8 thoughts on “Tomas Espedal’s Tramp

  1. An author I have never heard of myself. Honestly I am going to have to stop following your posts if you insist on reading Seagull Books. I am still recovering from my acquisition of The Loss Library and mapping out my next excursion. I like the sound of this.

    • You may well have to stop following my posts, as Seagull Books have become somewhat of an obsession. I’m genuinely in awe of their back catalogue and have in mind building quite a collection. I suspect that, like Tomas Espedal, I’ll make many other interesting discoveries.

      By the way, thanks for reading and I do hope you are making a good recovery following your recent ill health.

      • I have an appetite for intelligent observation so I will keep reading. Visa is a constraint on my intellectual diversions. Sadly. And thank you for the regards. Physical recovery is progressing. A heart attack is an emotional and philosophical wake up call that is much more complicated to answer directly.

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