By Sven Birkerts, Graywolf Press, 175 pages

-The Examined Life-

The experience of a true poem is the experience of being awestruck. By the words, the beauty, but more by the revelation in the self of an awareness, a feeling, that temporarily banishes other considerations.”

Memoirist and critic Sven Birkerts takes you along on a walk that he has not taken before in The Other Walk, a collection of short essays. Find here at work the contemplative mind processing the life of the scholar, bohemian and esthete. Readers may be jealous of the life he has led and those things he has encountered that have influenced him. Here one will find an introspective take on such a life, which can be profound and fascinating. Birkerts takes on a variety of interesting and inspiring subjects. He has read his share of the required reading and has clearly benefited and been inspired by it.

The book does go in slow motion at times, but it rewards those who choose the examined life. The subject matter can be dense, but rewards the close reader. The collection does not have a gripping theme, but is profound nonetheless. It is not clear where the journey that Birkerts is taking will lead you, but the subjects along the way will fascinate. The Other Walk may not lead the way for you, but it might help people be more circumspect and reflective which can’t be bad. The reader may also learn and grow.

Ryder Miller