Despairing Author Scooped by New Yorker

Hunter S. Thompson had motorcycles and guns. But I had walking.

It’s every author’s nightmare. You slave through 17 drafts over as many years on a novel, only to open the New Yorker, and find you’ve been scooped. “Walking,” devastated writer David Hull states simply. “They got me on [expletive deleted] walking.” He points to an article that explores the relationship between thinking and walking. “I can’t even read it,” he says, savagely throwing the magazine in the direction of two cats sleeping and his nearby girlfriend. Suddenly three sets of doubtful green eyes are upon him. “Walking was supposed to be mine! You know what I mean? Hunter S. Thompson had motorcycles and guns. Fine. Ian McEwan has climatologist in the arctic feeling a chapstick in his pants and thinking that his penis has frozen solid and snapped off. No problem, I’ve got no problem with that. Why? Because I had walking.” Entirely without prompting, Hull produces one of his controversial ‘final drafts’ and turns to the relevant page:

Walking was somehow at the essence of Gerber’s being. Walking has none of those discontinuities which so unsettled him. His political stance rested on the conviction that a break with the past is impossible. The broken Kantian breaking with Kant on revolution, on the possibility of clean breaks. (Could a man break with his own past? No, Gerber sighed, no, and Allen could see him lifting his eyes, as he often did when he reached a limit, looking up unwittingly, higher and higher, like a child appealing to his parent. Those unwilled moments, the tics and quirks, are what we crave in the ones we love and what we love and remember in them. Even in a man who studied the Will! Allen smiled and caught himself turning involuntarily to the left.)

Hull is asked whether he is aware that there have been entire books devoted to the topic of walking, books implying that the attention of intellectuals is required before readers can understand this most human of pursuits. But he’s not listening any more. He’s gone off into his own despairing writer’s place. “What else are they going to scoop me on?” he asks. “I guess the answer is: what else have I got? Comedy in a university… Awkward sexual tensions… Grief, despair, death…” His eyes light. “Death. Yes. Mark my words, that’s where they’ll scoop me next. You just watch.”