Monday, 2 July 2012

Something sensational

I spent a lot of time on trains over the weekend, so took plenty to read* - on my Kindle. I particularly enjoyed two essays in the latest issue of Granta. One, by Gary Younge is on the  - on the face of it - unprepossessing subject of growing up in Stevenage. Younge manages to turn this into a terse, unsentimental 'page-turner' of far greater fascination than many more ostensibly exotic and exciting subjects.  Younge does not shout or strike attitudes, but his story is - unusually in this Granta collection - a quietly devastating firsthand account of the collapse of a society. Stevenage should be proud of him. Another is 'Silt' by Robert Macfarlane, a masterly, marvellous piece of writing about a dangerous and beautiful walk called  the Broomway across the Maplin Sands. Taken together, these  two authors remind us that setting out with a plan is sometimes not enough;  we can only see so far ahead, and survival can depend on chance.
*the title of this blog alludes to Oscar Wilde's quip that he always took his diary on a train journey in order to have something sensational to read.

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