A Must Read: Matt Bell’s “A Long Walk, With Only Chalk to Mark the Way”

21 Nov

I run sometimes. It’s okay, I guess. I don’t really like running. I’d rather ride my bike. But, I run sometimes. Plod may be a better term. I plod sometimes.

Because the plodding tends to hurt, I welcome distraction when I plod. Anything to keep my mind occupied with something other than the pain in my bad left knee, the counting down of the tenths-of-miles left until I’m done.

Plodding outside is easy enough. There are squirrels, street signs to jump up and tap with my fingers, cars to watch out for. But treadmills are another monster. Treadmills offer little more than the stink of the person next to you, the screen ticking away your calories burning, the miles left.

Today was the first day I took my iPad along with me to the gym. Today, I read Matt Bell’s single-story eBook of “A Long Walk, With Only Chalk to Mark the Way.” Today, I didn’t feel a single mile. I felt only the story, from the first sentence to the last.

And then the father and the boy were separated, the boy taken deeper inside the hospital and the father told to wait while the doctors ran their tests. Somewhere, the doctors in their white coats passed the boy through their white machines, made him wait too, in countless white rooms tucked at the end of long white-walled hallways. In one of the rooms, uniformed nurses pulled on white latex gloves and then drew the boy’s blood, collected his urine. In another, they held him down while the doctors tapped his spine, made it weep into the cylinders of their syringes.

This story is a must read, whether on a treadmill, a bar stool, or a cushioned sofa. Read it.

2 Responses to “A Must Read: Matt Bell’s “A Long Walk, With Only Chalk to Mark the Way””


  1. Painted faces « PULPIT - November 23, 2011

    […] Vouched blogged on Matt Bell’s new […]

  2. Awful Interview: Matt Bell « - April 5, 2012

    […] his name in our search bar (up there at the top right corner of your screen) and be amazed at how many posts pop up with his name. There are all sorts of reasons to like Matt Bell: he is likeable, he is […]

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