Guest Post by Kevin Brown
In Six Walks: In the Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau, Ben Shattuck begins the first of his six walks on a whim, or, more accurately, as a coping mechanism to deal with nightmares stemming from the end of a relationship. It is unplanned, and it doesn’t go particularly well. By the end of the book, when he retraces a few stops from that walk, his life has changed quite dramatically. The book is both a meditation on Thoreau’s influence on Shattuck’s life and thought and a memoir detailing Shattuck’s development from that particularly difficult time in his life to a much brighter ending. As he writes near the end of the work, “…walking through the dark forest, you might eventually look up through the trees, see that the sky above is the same as the sky over the sunny pasture, that it is one canopy of light spread over your whole life’s landscape. Grief and joy are in the same life, but it’s only in the forest where you notice the shafts of sunlight spilling through.” Shattuck explores both grief and joy in his life and in Thoreau’s life, helping readers understand both emotions and both people more clearly.
Six Walks: In the Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau by Ben Shattuck. Tin House Books, April 2022.
Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite or kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.