So, having done a blog post about Damon Runyon and walking, I thought I should read a biography of the man himself, and I went for Jimmy Breslin’s version, designated Damon Runyon on the title page, Damon Runyon A Life on the jacket. Hey, I used to be a cataloguer – we cared about these things. That's Breslin above.
The book was published in 1991, when the term “creative nonfiction” wasn’t used much, if at all, and there are certainly times when I wished Breslin’s writing was just a little less “creative.” And there is one oddity in the early pages, Breslin describes Runyon as “a thin man who walked on tiny feet, which took a 5½B shoe.” I think Breslin is trying to tell us something and I think we all know what it is. I’m not saying he’s wrong, and he did meet the man, but in the photographs I’ve seen of Runyon, his feet don’t look especially small, as here:
On a somehow related note there was a review in the Independent newspaper by my pal and former editor Karen Wright, of an exhibition of paintings by the late Zaha Hadid, best known of course as an architect.
Karen Wright doesn’t think much of the paintings though she’s basically pro-Hadid. Still, she writes, “I close this review recalling my reaction after visiting Maxxi, her sadly not fully completed building in Rome. When I visited it pre-opening, I noticed the floors designed to let light in with an open grid and realised that Italian women who love their stilettos would be stuck in the holes with their high heels. When I saw her at Soho House I questioned her on this. She drew herself up and looked at me as if I was mad. ‘I do not wear high heels.’ At the opening many women were hopping around clutching their escorts, their heels trapped. Since then the floors have been capped and the idea of allowing light through, which was brilliant in some ways, is gone.”
The Maxxi (above) still looks like a fun place to go walking however, that's it above.
Zaha Hadid did design shoes (3D printing was involved in many of them), and it’s true that they don’t have high heels in the usual sense of the word, though it’s hard to imagine anybody actually walking very far in them.
I have not been able to find many pictures of Zaha Hadid walking, though there is this one – she’s apparently on her way to the Sistine chapel:
I also managed to find a picture of her in what, to me, look very much like heels, and I can’t imagine her walking very far in these either.
Does she contradict herself? Sure, and why not? No doubt she contained multitudes.