Walks from City Bus Routes: A Circuitous Route

Critical Writing
Publication Type: 
Record Status: 
Abstract (in English): 

An article on the creation and critical context of J. R. Carpenter's web-based work "Walks from City Bus Routes", which uses JavaScript to randomly and endlessly recombine illustrations and portions of text from an Edinburgh City Transport booklet published in the 1950sand bus and tram route icons from a City of Edinburgh Transport Map published in the 1940s, resulting in a new guide ‘book’ which perpetually proposes an infinite number of plausible yet practically impossible walking routes through the city of Edinburgh, and and its book shops, confusing and confounding boundaries between physical and digital, reading and writing, fact and fiction.

Pull Quotes: 

Questions of place have long-pervaded my fiction writing and maps have figured prominently in many of my web-based works. An outline of a map of Nova Scotia served as the interface for one of my earliest web-based works, Mythologies of Landforms and Little Girls (1996). In The Cape (2005), I used an assortment of maps, charts, and diagrams borrowed from an Environmental Geologic Guide to Cape Cod National Seashore published in 1979 as stand-ins for family photographs. In In Absentia (2008) I used the Google Maps API to haunt the satellite view of the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal with stories of former tenants forced out by gentrification. My first novel, Words the Dog Knows (2008) included an impossible map of ancient Rome. I’d never set out to map a place I’d never been before, but then sometimes maps seem to call places into being.

Though many of the paths, towpaths, grassy slopes, fields, and roundabouts referenced in the Edinburgh City Transport pamphlet no longer exist, as variables within JavaScript strings these past places are ascribed new locations in computer memory. Called as statements into this new narrative structure, these past places become potential (albeit imaginary) destinations once again (albeit for readers rather than walkers).

J. R. Carpenter || The Broadside of a Yarn
J. R. Carpenter || Walks from City Bus Routes

Platforms referenced:

Title Developers Year initiated
JavaScript 1995

Publishers referenced:

Title Location
The New River: A Journal of Digital Writing and Art
Virginia Tech VA
United States
Virginia US

Organizations referenced:


Events referenced:

Titlesort descending Date Location
ELMCIP Conference on Remediating the Social 01.11.2012
United Kingdom
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J. R. Carpenter