Last month, Abbas posted a review of Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch's Ten Walks/Two Talks, which “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.” HTMLGIANT has an interview with the authors on their project. It's also offering a free copy of the book to the commenter that's taken the longest walk, for those who may need an incentive to share their story.
Which came first for you, this form or the idea to collaborate? I mean, did you guys decide you wanted to collab on something and come up with this, or what?
Andy Fitch: By our late twenties, both Jon and I felt we had done enough single, solitary work for years to come. We loved each other, and enjoyed talking to each other. A two-for-the-price-of-one aesthetic had long appealed to us, though the idea for this particular book came later.
Jon: Ten Walks/Two Talks combines excerpts from two manuscripts: Andy’s Sixty Morning Walks, and our collaborative Conversations over Stolen Food. After reading Sixty Morning Walks, I told Andy I’d wanted to transcribe dialogues between me and people I met at Union Square Whole Foods while eating stolen food. Something about that space evokes the ancient Greek agora (or marketplace), so it seemed the perfect venue for a project at least loosely connected with Socratic dialogue—plus, Socrates was known to sample delicacies at congregations to which he hadn’t been invited. I thought the project would be called Conversations over Stolen Food, but before long I’d gotten busy with other things and more or less forgot about it. Roughly a year later Andy asked me to record conversations with him. It was exhilarating. We did thirty dialogues in just over a month, all across New York City, though “Union Square W.F.” is our most common meeting-place since it’s hard to pass up a discounted organic meal. These talks became Conversations over Stolen Food. Other people occasionally appear; for the most part the dialogues unfold between us.