Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Sunday, 21 April 2002

Writer's group meeting today. I got some good critiques. There was a slightly different thrust than the previous critiques I had gotten, but the basic issue is still there--everybody wants more. I guess I'll put the story aside for a bit and see if it wants to be a novel or something.

I'm reading The City in Mind by James Howard Kunstler. His earlier book, The Geography of Nowhere is a brilliant analysis of the destruction wrought upon our cities and our civic lives through designing our cities for people in cars with complete disregard for people who are car-free. This book is on much the same topic, with an analysis of some cities (such as Atlanta) that have gone about as far as possible down that road, and some others (such as Paris and Boston) that have not.

I like walkable communities myself, which came as a surprise to me. I always assumed that I preferred living in rural areas, as close to wilderness as I could easily get. The years I was in high school, my family lived on 40 acres of woods eighteen miles from Kalamazoo and eight miles from the small town where I went to high school. When I bought a house, it too was outside of town.

It was only after my house-and-financial catastrophe that Jackie and I moved back into Champaign. I was still making mortgage payments on the house, so we needed to find a really cheap apartment; it was just good luck that it turned out as well as it had. We liked it so much, that we stayed here even after the insurance company paid off and the financial parts of the catastrophe became a non-issue.

Our apartment is within easy walking distance of two grocery stores. That means that Jackie can do the necessary grocery shopping without needing the car. (She could probably do all the grocery shopping without needing the car, if I didn't drink coke and mt. dew.) Besides the grocery stores there are about a dozen restaurants (mostly fast-food, but also a couple of real restaurants), a video rental place, a hardware store, a postal substation, and a copy shop. There's also pretty good bus service. When we've looked into finding a larger apartment, there's just nothing else in town that comes close to providing the same range of places within walking distance.


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