Monday, March 11, 2013

review: Departures by Tony Parsons

The Heathrow writer in residence is something that has happened over the last few years with some well known names spending a week at the airport collecting ideas and stories that can inspire some further work.

Tony Parsons book was something I picked up while going through an airport and thought it looked like an apt choice. The chapters are almost like a guided tour through the different departments he visited in his week with plenty of time spent with the people who have to look after animals that are flown around the work and have to go through quarantine. But perhaps the effort of trying to link the experiences of those in-front and behind the scenes with some passenger stories is too much and it feels like most of the thinking was spent on trying to work out how to make those links work.

It's one of the books that manages perhaps to make you think a little bit about the numerous stories that are unfolding in an airport at any one time but there is also the slight doubt in my mind that you would really want to know about half of them.

Airports are temporary places for most people and although we walk past and benefit from the work done by the staff in their high-vis tabards the interest in their stories is not something that is at the forefront of the mind.

In some respects Parsons makes you stop and think about all that goes on in a busy hub like Heathrow and the book itself proves that it can be an inspiring place for a writer but it also feels like an exercise in literary creativity that could equally have been played out in a hospital or hotel.

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