Stranger On A Train: Daydreaming and Smoking Around America Paperback – 15 Jan 2004
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Her writing is sensitive, sincere and sparkling. (Morning Star)
(Diski's) near-erotic musings on the dreaded weed almost made me want to take up smoking again. And that's saying something. (Irish Times)
Beautifully written (Times)
* Follows the prize winning memoir, Skating to Antarctica.
* The story of her troubled teenage years in and out of psychiatric institutions intercut with a contemporary tale of travelling across America by train, surrounded by strangers.
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Top Customer Reviews
I found the structure really interesting, she related a meeting with a stranger during her travels, which in turn would provoke a memory from her life. You become interested in her journey around America for the insight on American train travel and her life is drip fed without much initial explanation, you have to piece it together.
It's quite introspective, philosophical and it isn't a fast paced page turner, but I enjoyed it. Much more than some of the other celebrity autobiography's I've also read as research and seemed plodding and dull chronologies by comparison.
I'd recomend it, but stick with the first few chapters as I do think it's an acquired taste.
It is an account of two extended train journeys in the USA. The first begins on a freighter across the Atlantic then takes trains from Savannah, Georgia to Tucson, Arizona. The second is even more ambitious: a round trip starting in New York and heading anticlockwise around the USA via Portland, Sacramento and Albuqerque. The main setting throughout these journeys is the smoking compartment (or equivalent) set aside for smokers and the interaction of those taking refuge within it. This environment is so well portrayed that I could smell the cigarette ash, see the drifting haze of smoke, sense the tired boredom of the occupants, visualise the varied conversations.
The book is both a hymn to the ritual of smoking and a meditation on the importance of a boundary between self and other. It becomes clear as Jenny’s daydreaming leads to reminiscences about her childhood and adolescence, that her need to maintain a distance from others in these superficially routine smoking compartment interactions, is no mere philosophical affectation but a deadly earnest struggle for survival of “self” rooted in an emotionally traumatic childhood and exemplified by significant in-patient psychiatric admissions (age 14/15, 1962, 5 months; age 20, 1967, 4 months; age 21, 1968, 9 months). This continued fear of intrusion from others adds an urgency and interest to her account that makes this much more than yet another travel book fulfilling a contractual obligation. Even the circuit of the USA has its parallels with how at age thirteen she would routinely spend all day travelling the London Underground Circle Line on its continuous circular route.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
great reading. Amusing, profound. Seemingly open about herself, the author does not give her inner self away. This is the kind of writing which makes the reader long for more.Published 18 days ago by Riegler Elfriede
It has been a few years since I read this book, I was travelling on Amtrak from Seattle to Chicago so it caught my eye. As others have said its a book about people watching. Read morePublished on 25 Jan. 2014 by Colin
Book arrived on time in good condition. An excellent read, so much so that I ordered another of her books and
hope to read more.