A flâneur-novel tracing the path—and inner thoughts—of a nameless wanderer as he walks the length of Manhattan
De Quincey, Baudelaire, Poe, Joyce, Walter Benjamin, Melville, Lorca, Whitman . . . each a walker and city dweller, each a collagist and chronicler, each picking the detritus of his era off the filthy streets and assembling it into something new, shocking, and beautiful. In To Walk Alone in the Crowd, Antonio Muñoz Molina emulates these classical inspirations, following their peregrinations as well as telling their stories, in a book that is part memoir, part novel, part chronicle of urban wandering.
A master collagist himself, Muñoz Molina assembles overheard conversations, subway ads, commercials blazing away on public screens, snatches from books hurriedly packed into bags or shoved under one’s arm, mundane anxieties, and the occasional true flash of insight—struggling to announce itself amid this barrage of data—into a poem of contemporary life: an invitation to let oneself be carried along by the sheer energy of the digital metropolis.
A denunciation of the harsh noise of capitalism, of the conversion of everything into either merchandise or garbage (or both), To Walk Alone in the Crowd is also a celebration of the beauty and variety of our world, of the ecological and aesthetic gaze that can, even now, recycle waste into art and provide an opportunity for rebirth.