Last week in class, I brought in a drawing of a bicycle as a symbol of my experience in reading David Herd’s Through. (I thought about bringing in a bicycle but I don’t have one, and also that seems like a drag.)
The bicycle seems like an apt symbol for me as, evidenced by the title, movement is vital to Herd’s book. Within Through, Herd moves through a lot of things: time, space, borders, so on and so forth. He does so at varying speeds, oftentimes referencing walking. For me, though, the experience of reading Through felt more like riding a bike; moving at such a speed that the images and letters you are passing are, at times, recognizable, and at other times, totally foreign. At a walking speed, everything is readable, and at a driving speed (car, train, bus, whatever) things are rarely ever readable. Through, for me, felt like the middle-ground. This isn’t to say that I didn’t understand half of the book. I think more than that, it is to say that half of the book wasn’t written for me. That same half of the book may or may not have been written for you. Herd, in my estimation, provides so much content and so many nouns, proper and otherwise, that it becomes inevitable that the reader will grasp onto some, but not all, of what he is saying; I would reckon, too, that Herd doesn’t want us to grasp onto everything. He renders just enough of his text inaccessible that we, as readers, are able to begin to understand the feeling of inaccessibility in being an immigrant or refugee, for whom language (in addition to things like borders and countries and jobs) is rendered inaccessible, fleeting, appearing to move faster than they are.