Linda Grant is a prize-winning novelist and journalist. She has been a feature writer for The Guardian to which she contributes regularly, and she has also written for The Observer, The Independent and The Daily Telegraph. She is the author of The Cast Iron Shore, When I Lived in Modern Times, Still Here and The People on the Street. Below Linda commends Manolo the Shoeblogger's The Consolation of The Shoes.
Linda Grant on The Consolation of The Shoes by Manolo the Shoeblogger
Every morning, after I have opened my emails, the very first website I turn to is the blog of the Manolo, the mysterious New Yorker who, like his namesake, Manolo Blahnik, loves the shoes. I do not love the shoes as much as the Manolo, but I love the literary style, the warmth, the wisdom, the campaigns against ugly shoes such as Uggs and Crocs, and the slightly eccentric hobbyhorses, such as his undying fandom for David Hasselhoff, former star of Baywatch.
Now the Manolo has published a small book, a pamphlet, which through the medium of a kind of fairy tale, explores some important philosophical questions. It begins:
Manolo says, many years ago, when the young Manolo was sunk into despair over the dismal and impoverished conditions in which he had found himself, he sat down at the rickety table in his tiny garret, picked up his pen, and turned to his muses to help him write a few lines of the beautiful poetry commemorative of his state.Now, many of us call up the muses, and for the most part they remain sullenly silent, but in the case of the Manolo, his entered - a tall regal woman in a pink Chanel suit, with an Hermès handbag in one hand and illustrated coffee table books in the other. She was, she announced, Lady Fashion and her purpose was to bring solace in the form of a glimpse of the shoes of heaven.
'Do you see the shoes, my child?' she asks. 'I wish you to attend to them closely, and to remember them, and to remember this simple and eternal verity. We shall always have the shoes.'Perplexed, the young Manolo attempts to understand this philosophical epigram, but Lady Fashion has vanished, leaving him with an intense afterglow but no visual memory of what the shoes had actually looked like. He now embarks on a search to find the shoes he has witnessed in his vision. It follows, he believes, that the shoes of heaven will be worn on the heavenly creatures, but when he examines the paintings in churches, he discovers that the angels wear no shoes, and Moses wears no shoes. Could it be that footwear was the special provenance of the devil? But why, then, was there so little pleasure in walking around in bare feet?
I shall not spoil the ending of this little tale to reveal what he comes to understand about Lady Fashion's message. I will just commend The Consolation of The Shoes as the perfect pocket book, to be kept about one's person when one inclines to lofty philosophical thoughts which are nonetheless rooted in the reality of our own flawed humanity.
The Consolation of The Shoes can be purchased here.