Reviewed here by Jon Blackwood, curator of Contemporary Art:
"In a city where the car was meant to be the way people moved around, travelling by bike or by foot could be read as subversive. Many projects in the weekender addressed the radically different perception of MK from one of the city’s redways, nearly 300 kms worth of pathways that allow walkers and cyclists to steer clear of the main boulevards. Inevitably these become spaces for the imagination, for reflection, for dreaming; all three of these and more were found in the “ambulatory research” of Phil Smith, whose new novel The MK Myth was launched at the event; a psychogeographical, visionary response to the environment and an urgent invitation that the reader look again through the eyes of the novel’s main character; a novel that also can be read whilst walking, or suggest new ways of navigating around the city..."
Reviewed at 'Pedalling Culture' here
"‘The MK Myth’ is a novel based on walking Milton Keynes. It has created a new myth for the city and anyone can walk its route and enjoy its fictional adventure, either reading as they wander or in the comfort of their armchair.
The novel seeks to respond to the generally accepted misrepresentation of MK as a soulless collection of roundabouts and reveals the ignored mysteries, wonders and tragedies of the city.
The book comes with a fully-described route through the city that a reader can follow. Indeed, the reader can literally walks in the footsteps of the central character ‘K’, a young woman who works as a marketing rep in a local company, as she finds herself having to cross the city on foot and discovering a city within the city, a city she had always been so close to but never knew.
Along the way she meets a vast array of local characters from Amazon delivery men and wheezy female tour guides to a sixteenth century alchemist and the Archangel Gabriel. She visits a huge array of places from beautiful chapels to hidden wastelands, from suburban obelisks to splendid windmills.
The plot of the novel concerns how attempts by ‘K’ to promote her new marketing programme become sidetracked by a war in heaven and ‘K’ get caught up in a battle between two motley groups of characters; but are they all parts of her own imagination? The resolution of her dilemmas and predicament is one that the reader plays a part in choosing.
Published in hard copy form and available for purchase at local bookshops, civic venues and libraries, the book contains routes of the rep’s journeys, so that readers can not only imagine these, but walk them for themselves."
Reviewed on the About Milton Keynes' website here
"As you can probably tell, I found this book puzzling. It has echoes of Ulysses, and also Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I wondered if drawing the route of K’s journey on a map might provide a key to the puzzle.
...The book does take on a life of its own, in the same way that Milton Keynes becomes a living entity in the narrative. I found The MK Myth intriguing, because of its multilayeredness and its surreal qualities. It does have one particularly surreal episode which I found quite brilliant. (I won’t spoil it by pinpointing it exactly.) The book is densely packed with myths, legends and old stories related to Milton Keynes, which might provide a remedy to the common accusation that MK has no history.
So, could the book finally lay to rest Milton Keynes’ enduring reputation as the land of concrete cows and roundabouts? Could we see a “Ksday” (à la Bloomsday) taking place in Milton Keynes?"