Book Club: “Walking Out” by David Quammen

[shot from the “Walking Out” movie]

This week we are reading the story called “Walking Out” written by American science and travel writer David Quammen. 

This story is included in this story in the anthology American Short Story Masterpieces, edited by Raymond Carver and Tom Jenks.

Quammen said that the story is laced with inspiration that’s entrenched in Roman mythology, specifically the life of Aeneas, the founder of Rome, and ancestor to its peoples, who while fleeing Troy, carried his father, Anchises, on his own shoulders.

“There are a number of places in the story that were influenced by friends and their relationships with their fathers,” said Quammen. “There are also bits from a lot of different places, including the myth of Aeneas, who carried his father out of the burning ruins of Troy on his back. It’s an ancient, archetypal act of keeping faith with your ancestors, and that’s what the story, Walking Out, is about.”

You can also watch a movie based on the story under the same title. It received quite good reviews.


One comment


    19:03:37 From Diana Yarmolinska : Father and son
    19:03:39 From Diana Yarmolinska : David
    19:03:58 From Diana Yarmolinska : He is 11
    19:04:14 From Diana Yarmolinska : father and mother are divorced
    19:04:26 From Diana Yarmolinska : moose
    19:06:45 From Diana Yarmolinska : cub
    19:13:06 From Diana Yarmolinska : Dad told the boy to climb the tree
    19:16:22 From Diana Yarmolinska : clutch
    19:17:05 From Diana Yarmolinska : piggyback
    19:23:09 From Vasanth : T
    19:26:38 From neuromantic : t
    19:27:45 From Diana Yarmolinska : tag the moose
    19:28:21 From Vasanth : Q
    19:31:29 From neuromantic : q
    19:33:17 From Diana Yarmolinska : Last year on the boy’s visit they had hunted birds. They had lived in the cabin for six nights, and each day they had hunted pheasant in the wheat stubble, or blue grouse in the woods, or ducks along the irrigation slews. The boy had been wet and cold and miserable at times, but each evening they returned to the cabin and to the boy’s suitcase of dry clothes. They had eaten hot food cooked on a stove, and had smelled the cabin smell, and had slept together in a bed. In six days of hunting, the boy had not managed to kill a single bird. Yet last year he had known that, at least once a day, he would be comfortable, if not happy. This year his father planned that he should not even be comfortable. He had said in his last letter to Evergreen Park, before the boy left Chicago but when it was too late for him not to leave, that he would take the boy camping in the mountains, after big game. He had pretended to believe that the boy would be glad.
    19:35:53 From Vasanth : T

    19:39:34 From Vasanth : Probably due to the snow and cold weather, he might have clenched his teeth ?
    19:41:17 From Diana Yarmolinska : “I don’t much want to sleep in a hut,” he said, and his voice broke with the simple honesty of it, and his eyes glazed. He held his mouth tight against the trembling. As though something had broken in him too, the boy’s father laid his forehead down on the steering wheel, against his knuckles, for a moment he remained bowed, breathing exhaustedly. But he looked up again before speaking. “Well, we don’t have to, David.” The boy said nothing.
    19:41:31 From Diana Yarmolinska : “It’s an old sheepman’s hut made of logs, and it’s near where we’re going to hunt and we can fix it dry and good. I thought you might like that. I thought it might be more fun than a tent. But we don’t have to do it. We can drive back to Big Timber and buy a tent, or we can drive back to the cabin and hunt birds, like last year. Whatever you want to do. You have to forgive me the kind of ideas I get. I hope you will. We don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do.” “No,” the boy said. “I want to.” “Are you sure?” “No,” the boy said. “But I just want to.”
    19:44:44 From Diana Yarmolinska : “Do you remember your grandfather, David?” “Yes,” the boy said, and wished it were true. He remembered a funeral when he was three. “Your grandfather brought me up on this mountain when I was seventeen. That was the last year he hunted.” The boy knew what sort of thoughts his father was having. But he knew also that his own home was in Evergreen Park, and that he was another man’s boy now, with another man’s name, though this indeed was his father. “Your grandfather was fifty years older than me.” The boy said nothing. “‘And I’m thirty-four years older than you.” “‘And I’m only eleven,” the boy cautioned him. “Yes,” said his father. ‘‘And someday you’ll have a son and you’ll be forty years older than him, and you’ll want so badly for him to know who you are that you could cry.” The boy was embarrassed. “And that’s called the cycle of life’s infinite wisdom,” his father said, and laughed at himself unpleasantly.
    19:49:49 From Diana Yarmolinska : A sleek furred carcass lay low in the water, swollen grotesquely with putrescence and coated with glistening blowflies. Four days, the boy’s father guessed. The moose had been shot at least eighteen times with a .22 pistol. One of its eyes had been shot out; it had been shot twice in the jaw; and both quarters on the side that lay upward were ruined with shots. Standing up to his knees in the sump, the boy’s father took the trouble of counting the holes, and probing one of the slugs out with his knife. That only made him angrier. He flung the lead away.
    19:53:25 From Diana Yarmolinska : He was very tired. He did not want to stop. He did not care anymore about being warm. He wanted only to reach the jeep, and to save his father’s life. He wondered whether his father would love him more generously for having done it. He wondered whether his father would ever forgive him for having done it. If he failed, his father could never again make him feel shame, the boy thought naively. So he did not worry about failing. He did not worry about dying. His hand was not bleeding, and he felt strong.
    19:54:51 From Vasanth : Q

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