by Lloyd Graff
Today’s Machining World Archives October 2010 Volume 06 Issue 08
The Walk by Richard Paul Evans is a story of great emotional loss and one man’s step back from the ledge of suicide to the beginning of a new life.
I picked up the book at my local library in audio format. Evans, a noted storyteller, spoke the book on four discs. I think the verbal approach gave it a power that reading it in print would not have reached.
I have become a devotee of audio books, but not just because my eyes have been damaged by several retina detachments. I really think that a superb reader can lift a book’s connection to a listener far higher than the visual act of reading from the page.
My enjoyment of books is considerably greater today than at any other time in my life. I have always been a slow visual reader, so the advent of the audio book has transformed the book reading process into a wonderful form of entertainment for me and my wife, who also has vision issues.
The Walk is a good introduction to the audio book genre. Evans tells the story in the first person, and I bought into the story as if it was his own true rendition of what happened to him.
We follow as the narrator, Alan Christoffersen, tells his sad tale. It begins when he marries McKale, the beautiful over-arching love of his life from grade school. He starts an advertising agency in Seattle and becomes extremely successful. He builds an expensive new home and furnishes it elegantly—the world is his oyster. Then in six weeks, everything falls apart.
His wife is critically injured in a horse-riding fall. As he becomes distracted caring for her, his crooked partner undermines his agency and steals his clients. McKale leaves the hospital in a wheelchair and then contracts a urinary infection and dies. Alan loses his business and their house falls into foreclosure.
The story is grim, and frankly I skipped some of the saddest parts. I knew what was going to happen, so why wallow in it?
Alan Christoffersen comes very close to ending his life but pulls back when he connects with his wife’s admonition that he continues his life without her until they meet again in the afterlife.
Alan decides he will pull himself out of despair by walking from Seattle to the farthest place he can go, Key West, Florida.
I bought the premise. The vision of embarking on an incredibly difficult journey was attractive in a quixotic way. The story gets more interesting and upbeat as he starts his trek through Washington State towards Spokane.
The Walk is a good listen, but it isn’t much fun or uplifting. But it is a short book with a surprise ending and for me the epilogue of the book is the highlight. I will not reveal it in this review, but it is worth enduring the sadness of The Walk to reach the inspiration of the end.