So I went to the Los Angeles Times Book Fair at the weekend. It takes place these days on the University of Southern California campus – a big old spread – 226 acres, so it turns into a walking experience whether you want it to or not.
You see crowds of people wandering aimlessly, some cheerfully, some less so, and some of them may actually be heading for lecture halls and panel discussions - the line for the Henry Winkler signing was quite long, though not nearly as long as the line for the stand where they were giving away free frozen yoghurt - but the sense I get yesterday was that there were a lot of lost souls, walking, ambling, looking for something, though they didn’t know what.
And that’s just fine by me – and with psychogeographers too - a chance to drift without knowing what you’re going to find. I also suspect that what a lot of people were doing was just walking around looking at all the other people walking around. I’m not sure this really constitutes a bookish experience, unless of course you write a book about it.
Pico Iyer was there, as he usually is – on the Travel Stage - and I stopped to listen for a bit, but all the seats were taken and I always think that standing still for an hour is much, much harder than walking for a hour, so I didn’t stay till the end, but I did remember a quotation of Iyer’s, “Not having a car gives me volumes not to think or worry about, and makes walks around the neighborhood a daily adventure.” I have had long periods of owning cars, interspersed with periods of not owning a car – and you know, I somehow always managed to find plenty of things to worry about.