Poetry/Nonfiction | $14 ($12 direct from UDP)
Perfect-bound. 88 pp, 5 x 7.5 in.
Publication Date: 2010
Read Press Release (PDF)
Ten Walks/Two Talks combines a series of sixty-minute, sixty-sentence walks around Manhattan with a pair of roving dialogues—one of which takes place during a late-night "philosophical" ramble through Central Park. Mapping 21st-century New York, Cotner and Fitch update the meandering and meditative form of Basho's travel diaries to construct a descriptive/dialogic fugue.
"Perambulating with Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch in Ten Walks/Two Talks makes me wonder if conversation leads anywhere, nowhere, or everywhere. Their meandering is an aesthetic and intellectual stretch, since they walk and think artfully, poetry in motion. Maybe 21st-century dandies or rootless homeboys, they observe the unexpected in urban landscapes, notice people stunned or easy. Their weirdly astute dialogues flirt with being a novel or a play of manners. What stops them in their tracks or starts them? Why are they fascinated by what fascinates them? Their boasts, vulnerability, and modesty presume a profound and unusual friendship, itself in motion, treading on and between the lines."
"Like the propositions of Brainard, Schuyler, or Wittgenstein, Andy Fitch’s declarations of ambulatory fact—of 'mere' observation—are barbed with genius: clever, defamiliarizing, cushioned by a hum of meditative stillness. His sweetly Oulipian sentences give back to the ordinary its modicum of glow. And when he starts talking with the profound Jon Cotner, a latter-day Plato, we remember that philosophical inquiries have every right to take root in daily curiosities and drolleries, like the 'smell of hip-cream,' or the metonymic relation of 'my first oral sex experience' to the 'mace flavor' of a cup of tea. Neurasthenia never had finer spokesmen."
"Perhaps it was in the 5th century—I know this for a fact—that a certain government official in China chose to drop out of public life and devote himself to music and poetry, drunkenness and pure conversation. Soon he had a group of friends who had also left their 'lives' and this group became poster children for the ideal life in Asia for a very long time. Even today. When Jon and Andy walk around Manhattan talking about things I feel like they are a moving page from that very fine idea in which small talk is large and nothing is more interesting or full or more entrancing than allowing the city to model for you—and walking among it too, becoming it."
“Magic… A new way of moving through our worlds.”
–The Boston Phoenix
“Fantastic… A deceptively simple book, Ten Walks/Two Talks demands little but offers
much. Cotner and Fitch invite us to experience our city with fresh pleasure and renewed
–Time Out New York
“Ten Walks/Two Talks is not a destination; it’s a gentle journey with a pair of
“Unusually quiet and beautiful… This book isn’t like anything I’d encountered before.”
–Time Out Chicago
“A clever, well-executed investigation of the poetics of the commonplace.”
“Ten Walks/Two Talks helps instill what is too frequently missing from books on
buildings: the experience of the city.”
–A Daily Dose of Architecture
“Ten Walks/Two Talks is an associative journey where scents, noises, people, and
buildings are meticulously described through the eyes of intensely attentive explorers.”
–The Architect’s Newspaper
“I hate exercise, and I hate conversation, but I love Ten Walks/Two Talks.”
“Cotner and Fitch’s conversations zigzag between the philosophic and the comedic.”
“I’ve noticed more since I read Ten Walks/Two Talks. I’ve listened more. It’s made me
feel better. This is a gift, a beautiful book, and nothing in it is forgettable.”
From Ten Walks/Two Talks:
A: Have you noticed this man going at the lampposts with what I’d consider a Thai boxing style—lots of knee, knee, knee-thrusts?
J: It’s certainly not jujitsu.
A: Just as…
J: I could imagine he gets invaluable practice. The lampposts allow him to hone some moves.
A: This afternoon I tried (while on the phone with Kristin) spinning like a ballerina: lifting one foot so that your knee stands, so that your thigh hangs parallel to ground…
A: lifting…or holding a foot perpendicular and twirling? I forgot centripetal force…
J: Did it stretch new muscles?
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch are the authors of Ten Walks/Two Talks, which was chosen as a Best Book of 2010 by The Week, The Millions, Time Out Chicago, and Bookslut. They recently completed another collaboration called Conversations over Stolen Food. Cotner and Fitch have performed their dialogic improvisations across the United States and internationally. Cotner has done walk projects for the BMW Guggenheim Lab, Elastic City, and the Poetry Society of America. Fitch has books forthcoming from Dalkey Archive and Ugly Duckling Presse. Cotner teaches in Pratt Institute's Creative Writing Program. Fitch teaches in the University of Wyoming's MFA Program.
Author contact: jon.cotner [at] gmail [dot] com.