Sex, travel and philosophy 

Whistler author contemplates the burden of choice in his first novel

When someone hands you a book, the usual question is "what’s it about?" Most often the usual response is a rambling summation of the plot, the characters, and, where applicable, the point of the book.

Whistler author Mitch Rhodes, when handing over a copy of his first novel, The Worldwide Sexual Adventures of Walker Fayt, has an unusual answer ready for the usual question: "It’s a book about sex, travel and philosophy."

The idea came to him, naturally, while he was lying in bed one morning and pondering the concept of choice – how our split-second decisions and gut-reactions are predetermined by the lives we did or did not choose. By not following our instincts, we often close the door on opportunities and experiences that will make us happy, healthy and whole.

He came up with the title first, then the opening line – "There is no truth; there is only what we believe" – and worked backwards from there.

That was four and a half years ago. Over the next few years, he filled in the plot line piece by piece, with whatever spare time his career as a financial officer for a Toronto company afforded him. When he moved to Whistler with his wife in June of 1998, he jumped into it with both feet. Within a year he had a first draft.

"It was definitely a learning process for me," says Rhodes. "Even though I started with an outline, every day I had to sit down with nothing in front of me and try to create experiences and psychological insight, and put them down in concrete form."

Little by little, the worldwide sexual adventures of Walker Fayt unravelled.

The novel begins with a naïve but determined Walker on an airplane to Amsterdam, contemplating the vision that prompted him to leave his wife, his grown-up daughters and life as a high school history teacher in Appleton, Wisconsin, to travel the world seeking sexual experiences: "Death can occur at any time. So at any given moment you must live your life with no regrets and with no skeletons in the closet." In other words, if you’re not happy within yourself, you can’t possibly expect to bring happiness to those around you.

Like many people of his generation, Walker went to church and married the same high school sweetheart he lost his virginity to. While his wife was certain that this journey is just a symptom of a mid-life crisis, Walker knows that the crisis was over the moment he had a vision – once you are honest with yourself, there’s no turning back. At least that’s what he believes.

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