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Walk
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BOOK DETAILS

  • Paperback
  • Oct.21.2013
  • 9781431409204

James gives an overview of the book:

Walk is the story of a journey taken on foot, a deadly perambulation down the wild coastline of Southern Africa. It started at Lambasi in northern Pondoland and it ended not far from what we now know as Port Elizabeth. It is a hike that every South African should have the privilege of taking. For the survivors of the Grosvenor, as they clambered onto the rocks in 1792, they might as well have crash landed on Mars.  Walk takes the reader, step by step, day by day, on the castaway's horrific journey. While indisputably fiction, it steers a good deal closer to the historical truth than most nonfiction found on the shelves. Walk is tale of suffering rivaling Aspley Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World. It is the true story of a boy's survival in the face of impossible odds. It is a haunting parable on the meeting of Europe and Africa.
Read full overview »

Walk is the story of a journey taken on foot, a deadly perambulation down the wild coastline of Southern Africa. It started at Lambasi in northern Pondoland and it ended not far from what we now know as Port Elizabeth. It is a hike that every South African should have the privilege of taking. For the survivors of the Grosvenor, as they clambered onto the rocks in 1792, they might as well have crash landed on Mars. 

Walk takes the reader, step by step, day by day, on the castaway's horrific journey. While indisputably fiction, it steers a good deal closer to the historical truth than most nonfiction found on the shelves.

Walk is tale of suffering rivaling Aspley Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World. It is the true story of a boy's survival in the face of impossible odds. It is a haunting parable on the meeting of Europe and Africa.

Read an excerpt »

THE WRECK

Sunday the 4th of August 1782

 

 At eight o’clock at night the Grosvenor was standing to the west before a fine fresh gale. The main topgallant was on deck to ease the mainmast which was not tight above and the vessel sailed under single reef topsails and fore-topgallant. The gale increased during the first watch and when the boy went on deck at midnight it had veered to the south-west and was blowing hard. There was a high sea running and the boy climbed up with the watch to take in the topsails. The wind moaned in the ropes and as they swayed and lurched there at their precarious labour they saw two large and spreading orange lights which glowed and shifted in the west.

       The mate, Mr Logie, lay ill in his cabin with his pregnant wife, and Mr Shaw, the second mate, was called up. The luminescences were strange to him and he surmised that they were phenomena of the air, perhaps akin to the radiance which sometimes casts green skeins through the night sky in regions close to the Arctic Circle.

      The lights were erased, first one and then the next, from their dark canvas and the gale increased and the seas with it. Despite his opinion on the lights, Mr Shaw thought it prudent to lay the ship eastwards. Captain Coxon came on deck before the order could be given. He reminded Mr Shaw that the Grosvenor could not possibly be within three hundred miles of any land. They were riding a fair gale and the ocean was empty before them. They had hopes of reaching Saint Helena soon. Waiting for them would be the first mail from England which they had seen in two years. They must speed west with the good wind.

      At four the watch was relieved and the boy went below and slumbered in his swinging hammock. At half past the hour, a seaman, Thomas Lewis, was aloft on the foretop masthead when he saw surf on the starboard bow. He climbed down to the forecastle and reported it. Those who were stationed there were divided. Some were certain that they could see land. Others saw only a heavy squall in the fogginess of the predawn. A seaman named Mixon ran aft and told the third mate, Mr Beale. Beale reminded Mixon that there was no land for waves to break upon at that latitude. Mixon suggested that Mr Beale cross the deck and look to starboard for himself. Mr Beale would not. Mixon then went into the roundhouse and woke Captain Coxon, who came on deck and gave immediate and energetic orders to turn the ship. The boatswain called all hands and the helm was put a’weather.

 

      They worked the Grosvenor round and some hands were in the act of hoisting the mizzen-staysail when the boy heard an extended tectonic rending. Standing there with his bare feet upon the planks, he felt the resonance of the collision in his bones and knew that it signalled a prodigious shift in the nature of things. 

james-whyle's picture

 "A haunting parable on the meeting of Europe and Africa."

About James

Grew up in the Amatole Mountains of the Eastern Cape in South Africa. Conscripted into the apartheid army, he was discharged on the grounds of insanity. He did everything in his power to assist the authorities in arriving at this diagnosis.

Has published poetry, short...

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