Saturday 7 July 2012

Trains of thought

Like many other writers, I find trains useful. They feature in 5 of the next 8 stories of mine to be published. There's the departure - leaving the old life behind - and the arrival - a new start - but the mode of transport has useful features too - a combination of constraint (tracks and timetables) and freedom; of aloneness and being in a crowd.

Journeys are traditionally quests, but train journeys can be outside space and time. One of AL Kennedy's characters says "You can relax here - this isn't anywhere. What ever happens outside, there's nothing we can do about it right now". Kaye Mitchell says that for Kennedy's character trains are "free of the expectations and judgements of others, a space in which to meditate freely on the past and her possible future".

Of course, there are many books and essays on the use of trains in literature and film. Two places to start are Why poets take trains from the Guardian, and Trains in Literature

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