Field says right up front that the idea for Encounterism came before the coronavirus pandemic ... That goes some way toward explaining why its chapters — essays, essentially — so often feel trapped in amber, describing realities of another time, as if no paradigms had shifted. It might also explain why the book so frequently relies on research that a person could do from home ... Field’s most vivid, potent writing channels the sensations of physical immersion in activities he clearly cherishes ... But Field’s opening chapter...reads like a performance of appreciation rather than the genuine article ... Field never truly gets at the fundamental, tangible value of being present, bodily, with our fellow human beings.
Simultaneously a lament of the unexploited potential of our public spaces, visions glimpsed of what might be and a warning of the consequences of where we are heading. It exhorts us to reach for moments of connection – despite ourselves – in a world designed to make it easy for us to stay apart.