Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Random Walk: Review

Random Walk by Lawrence Block is another stop on my Follow That Blurb Reading Challenge journey. Originally written in 1987, this book is a departure from Block's usual mystery/thriller fare...something I chose deliberately. It was beginning to look like my Blurb journey was going to begin and end with mysteries. I was kind of hoping the trip would be a little more varied. So, when Block blurbed my last read (No Body by Nancy Pickard) I just kept scrolling through his work to see what might strike my fancy. And came across this unusual novel. Very unusual. I would say that 90% of the book is schizophrenic.

Yes. There are two main stories going on throughout most of the book. First, we have the story of Guthrie, a bartender who's fairly happy with his life--going along just fine--when all of a sudden one day while he's waiting on a friend who's having an abortion he hears a voice tell him to take a walk. So he does. Quits his job. Sells his car. Cleans out his bank account of all but the minimum and just starts walking East. That's all he knows--gonna head East from Oregon. Doesn't know why, other than it just feels right. Along the way, he encounters other kindred spirits who just join him. At the same time as he's getting his message from the astral plane or wherever, Sara in Fort Wayne, Indiana begins to go blind. And decides that she's meant to go blind so she can see better. She quits her job; takes her son out of school; clears out as much cash as she can; and hops on a bus headed West. So she can meet up with Guthrie and company. As they walk they pick up more and more people and all sorts of New Age-y, mystical, healing-power, find yourself, center-yourself-breathing, heal the planet stuff begins to happen. As Guthrie says, by the time they reach the East Coast the reader shouldn't be surprised if the group isn't able to keep on walking on the water of the Atlantic Ocean and go trekking through Europe.

In story number two we have Mark, a power-hungry businessman and serial killer who gets his sexual jollies from knocking off as many women as possible. He's been at it for eight years--previously taking it slow and only killing at random as he travels for business. But lately the hunger has built and he decided to up his travel schedule for the summer and see how many he can do before the cold weather hits. His path keeps circling closer and closer to that of Guthrie's group....what will happen when the New Age peace and love and healing meets such a definite evil?

Despite the serial killer in storyline number two, as I mentioned above this is NOT a thriller. We're not waiting to see if Mark gets caught and there's definitely no detecting and mystery going on (unless you count the mystery of the New Age stuff). This story is a journey. It's not about where they're going; it's about what happens while they're on their way. It's about growth and personal healing. I'm not much into the whole New Age philosophy, but there are definitely some pieces of the message in this weird book that the human race could stand to learn. That we're all in this together. That what we do to others affects us--who we are and what we are. That if we treated each other and the world we live in better, then we just might make it. And the world would be a lot better for it.

Like I said, this is one weird book. I didn't know quite what to do with it. But I was compelled to keep reading. Couldn't stop if I wanted to. That must be a sign of powerful writing--even if I don't entirely agree with the message being conveyed. Three and 3/4 stars (almost four)--all for that powerful writing.


Anonymous said...

Not the story I expected when I saw the author was Lawrence Block. Sounds a little too odd for me.

Yvette said...

Probably not for me, Bev. But I admire your stick-to-it attitude. Even if I wouldn't read this book, I still enjoyed reading your review. How that's possible, I don't know. But it is. :)

Bev Hankins said...

Thanks, Yvette!