This is an experiment — I’ve written a book, Small Journeys, which I’m not sure is publishable in the traditional way. However, whenever I’ve done public readings of the book, people have uniformly told me how much they loved it. Either they’re just being nice, or there’s something about this book that lends itself to the oral form. This experiment — a “podcast” of the book — will help me find out. I put “podcast” in quotes because at this point I’m not willing to invest the time to learn how to do a proper podcast — I’m just linking to an MP3. If I get enough positive feedback, I’ll make it into a real podcast. What I’m offering you, then, is free prose, with only one catch: I hope you will give me feedback in some way — either respond to this post (or the cross-post on Metaxu CafÃ©), or send me an e-mail (remove dashes!). Obviously there’s no way for me to enforce this rule, but I’d really appreciate any input.
I’m not just looking for feedback on the writing. Please, also let me know about my voice, the quality of the recording, technical difficulties you may have encountered, additional explanation or commentary that you might want me to add, or anything else on your mind. I’m going to commit right now to three chapters (actually the Prologue and Chapters 1 and 2), about one per week. If I hear that people like it, I’ll do more. Feel free to tell your friends about this “podcast,” (please link to this post rather than the actual source files), but remember, at this point, there are no guarantees. Here’s some background information on the project:
I wrote Small Journeys partly as a way to understand my own childhood, but mostly to express the common difficulties that all kids face as they struggle to understand the world of adults. I had a difficult childhood, but it was difficult in the same sense that all childhoods are difficult: growing up isnâ€™t easy, no matter who you are. Small Journeys is the story of a particularly important period in my life, when the rough grown-up world begins to encroach on the simple, fun world of kids. Itâ€™s about a time when divorce intrudes on my efforts to build the worldâ€™s longest Lego car, when doughnuts are symbols of approaching death.
The book is a series of chapter-length episodes covering critical incidents in my childhood from age 8 to 11. Each chapter offers a main narrative describing some sort of journey: anything from an expedition up the river behind Grandpa’s trailer to a bus ride to the dentist. This main narrative is fractured by flashbacks that express my memories at the time I experience each journey. These â€œSmall Journeys,â€ together with the flashbacks, add up to create a vivid picture of a difficult childhood, told from the perspective of the child who lived it, but only reconstructed by the reader.
The stories take place in and around Seattle, Washington, in the late 1970s, when kids wore green toughskins and collected bicentennial quarters, when hippies were still hip. Seattle at that time was a more innocent place: it still seemed safe to let your kid take the bus by himself or play outside alone all day in the park.
Finally, here’s the link to the first installment. (To download to your computer for playing on your iPod or similar device, you’ll probably need to right-click or ctrl-click. Otherwise it’ll just play in your browser.) Hope you like it!