There is an incredible feature about British author Will Self visiting NYC in the NY Times Arts section. Why a feature and why so incredible? Well, Self decided to walk from JFK Airport to Manhattan - all 20 miles - and Times writer at large Charles McGrath and Times photographer Casey Kelbaugh went along for the journey, too. So it's incredibly brilliant and incredibly nuts at the same time.

There's a great map of the route and slideshow of the journey, which included admiring a Christmas-decorated home in South Ozone Park, stopping by Prospect Park, and appraising the Municipal Building (he loves it, though likens it to a "stretch limo"). Naturally, he made many interesting observations about the city.

Through the housing project at the end of Glenmore, a little zigzag and on to Eastern Parkway, where Mr. Self, looking back for a second, said: “There is a deep sadness to American poverty, greater than the sadness of any other kind. It’s because America has such an ideology of success.”

But then he brightened and said: “Perhaps we’ll feel better when we get to the Brooklyn Bridge. We’ll hear the skirl of the Gershwin clarinets, and we’ll believe in the dream of possibility once again.”

Proceeding along Eastern Parkway, Mr. Self studied the streetscape carefully, eager to discern the exact point when it turned from a black and Hispanic neighborhood to an Orthodox Jewish one, and was delighted when he spotted a guy in a yarmulke talking to two coffee-colored men.

“There!” he said. “There’s the interface!”

Self told McGrath that he gets his high (he's been off drugs and alcohol for years; he was "bounced off John Major’s campaign plane for snorting heroin in the bathroom" during the 1997 election) from walking these days.

While inspiring, we're not sure if we're up for copying this route. Here's Self's Wikipedia entry. And he was also taking digital pictures during the walk - we can only hope he has a Flickr page somewhere. Maybe his next book should be a non-fiction piece about his walks.

Graphic from the NY Times - see the bigger version here at the Times