Stranger on a Train

Jenny Diski

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Stranger on a Train

Stranger on a Train Using two cross country trips on Amtrak as her narrative vehicles British writer Jenny Diski connects the humming rails taking her into the heart of America with the track like scars leading back to

  • Title: Stranger on a Train
  • Author: Jenny Diski
  • ISBN: 9781860499951
  • Page: 193
  • Format: Paperback
  • Using two cross country trips on Amtrak as her narrative vehicles, British writer Jenny Diski connects the humming rails, taking her into the heart of America with the track like scars leading back to her own past As in the highly acclaimed Skating to Antarctica, Diski has created a seamless and seemingly effortless amalgam of reflections and revelation in a unique combinUsing two cross country trips on Amtrak as her narrative vehicles, British writer Jenny Diski connects the humming rails, taking her into the heart of America with the track like scars leading back to her own past As in the highly acclaimed Skating to Antarctica, Diski has created a seamless and seemingly effortless amalgam of reflections and revelation in a unique combination of travelogue and memoir.

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      Posted by:Jenny Diski
      Published :2018-06-18T20:32:41+00:00

    One thought on “Stranger on a Train

    1. Martin Budd on said:

      What an amazing work, I thought this would be a travel book in the same style as Paul Theroux or similar, it is, but it is also so much more than that. Like "Catcher in the Rye" Jenny's dialogue confirms to you that there are people who really do think like you do, who experience life as you do,that what goes on behind the eyes really can be very profound indeed.The book overflows with her warmth and humanity,but there is a good sharp bite with some of her observations giving a real depth to her [...]

    2. David Yoon on said:

      Jenny Diski endeavours to circumnavigate the United Statesby train. She’s not really intent on doing anything more than watch the scenery whip past and smoke. She finds a special place in the smoking car with it’s cracked linoleum floor, institutional gray walls and hard plastic chairs. There, along with the outcast, nicotine hungry pariahs she can unrepentantly smoke in peace. People seem to have other ideas and their lives and attendant stories reach out to her. Diski does a fair bit of li [...]

    3. Angel on said:

      to read and re-read and re-read, especially while travelling. most recently, i re-read this on the beach in miami, eavesdropping on americans. it was a chilly day (by floridian standards), but i was comfortingly wrapped in towels and diski's prose: acerbic, remote, kind and quite funny. her eye for detail is impressive.

    4. Davida Chazan on said:

      How wonderful is this book? Diski's travel across the USA and her experiences with being a smoker were just perfect - and made even more fun to read since I read it on a train myself. Highly recommended!

    5. Daren on said:

      I am struggling a bit with this review, as this book was very different from my expectation. Sometimes that is a good thing but not this time.I usually find winners of the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award excellent. This book won in 2003. For me however this is not a travel book. In this book travel is the least important element. America is just a setting, only what is seen out the train window when the author breaks eye contact with her fellow passengers, or sits alone in reflection. This book is [...]

    6. John on said:

      Diski is a very self-absorbed writer but her reflections on her life and her interactions (and worries about her interactions) with others are well worth reading, often chiming with and elucidating one's own feelings. Her reserve breaks down when she combines the anonimity of train travel in a foreign country with the shared sin of being a smoker amongst (when she can manage it) other smokers. She builds a handsome collection of personal vignettes from her fellow travellers, usually provoking th [...]

    7. Joey Gan on said:

      I thought this was a great way to explore the least explored. Despite the less-than-encouraging connotations associated with train travel in the US, Jenny still managed a trip that informed her more than the bitter hearsay. Curiosity is all you need to take on the road to make the journey a little more worth remembering!

    8. Jenny (Reading Envy) on said:

      Love the cover and the title but not the narrator, 100 pages in and still not on the train. I had chosen this for book speed dating so will abandon for other reads.

    9. James on said:

      This travelog/memoir, by a writer for whom travel, ideally, is "to be in or move through empty spaces in circumstances where nothing much will happen," was a lot more successful than you might think. Diski begins the book by describing how, when she was thirteen and unhappy, she would spend the days she wasn't in school riding the Circle Line underground train, smoking and reading an armful of library books. The two American train journeys she describes in this book are similarly circuitous and [...]

    10. Margaret Sullivan on said:

      What a disappointment. I love the idea of this book--traveling around more or less the circumference of the continental U.S. by train, and writing about it. I would like to WRITE that book (maybe--I might be too much of an introvert). But I would settle for reading it. Unfortunately, this was not really what I was looking for. The writing is lovely and deep and interesting, but the author is way too neurotic to write the book I was looking for, unfortunately. There were interesting parts, when D [...]

    11. Zora O'Neill on said:

      There is nothing quite as illuminating as travel literature about your own country. Diski is British, and she makes strange gaffes like calling the city "St. Paul's-Minneapolis," but has an overall sympathetic ear for Americans. I found it a little bit slow to start, but once I relaxed into it, it was perfect. The meat of it is really a catalog of every strange person and their strange stories, as encountered on Amtrak, especially in the smoking sections (when such a thing still existed--this wa [...]

    12. Carol on said:

      I'm not sure what is it about it, but I just love travel writing. I have a romanticised notion of train travel and this book fitted perfectly with that. The passengers she met along the way we're so open and their simple stories universal and moving. I do wonder if it would be like that now, more than a decade later. I'd like to think so.

    13. Gunnar Andersson on said:

      Nothing happens yet you want to read more, that is a good author! Weird people jump in and out from the story but it's not individual story's that makes the book interesting, it's the general mentality of the people that is depicted, a side of the US Hollywood rarely speak of.

    14. Fiona on said:

      Less about the landscape and more about the interesting mix of people Diski meets on her train journeys. Her insights and observations are so astute and she also reveals details about her own troubled early years.

    15. rosamund on said:

      Aside from the obvious health downsides, I've always thought it would be pleasant to smoke. You always have an excuse to leave a gathering and get outside; and it gives you something to do with your hands. But, though Diski's memoir is, in part, a paean to smoking, it makes smoking seem very inconvenient. Diski is traveling by train in the US in the early 00s and constantly struggles to find a place she can smoke: the one thought in her mind is where she will be legally allowed to smoke and how [...]

    16. Suzi Minor on said:

      Reading this book felt like a long train ride going nowhere, a passenger on an inescapable journey through pages of monotonous ramblings. Just like the writer anxiously awaits her next smoke break or anticipation for the next station; traveling with her through the pages, I found myself eagerly seeking the end of the book for my departure. I appreciate her availability to let the reader in to her inquisitive and sometimes paranoid thoughts, however the effort it took to find any real sense of st [...]

    17. Matt Walker on said:

      Liked this a lot, despite references to:1) a baseball player named Willie May2) an entertainer named Sammy Davies, Jr.3) a town in Minnesota called St. Paul's4) a river in North Dakota called the Mississippi5) an NYC landmark called Madison Square Gardens6) a neighborhood called Hell's Kitchen the Bronx

    18. Hal on said:

      I enjoyed the time spent with the author. Some like to be surrounded by friends, but she enjoyed the feeling of being a stranger. About halfway through I looked her up on the internet and learned she died of lung cancer at age 68. Put a sad tint on the rest of the book.

    19. Donna Lister on said:

      bonkers and amazing! it's incredible how she weaves her own dramatic life story into the narrative about her fellow passengers and it works effortlessly

    20. Nirmal on said:

      I liked this somewhat quirky travel writing and memoirs combo book. It is not a usual planned travel book where you go to a specific geography/region and do sightseeing and interacting with local folks and understand the local culture and report back your impressions about the place, people and their culture. In that sense it is more of selective memoirs enveloped in travel writing. Its subtitle "Daydreaming and Smoking around America with interruptions". An addition of 'on Amtrak trains' in the [...]

    21. Stephen AB on said:

      About 3.5 really - I enjoyed it very much, but I found the Antarctica book trip more thoughtful and easier to lose myself. Funny too, as Diski became more weary of other people's stories as she goes along, so did I as a reader. I appreciated that, but it doesn't make for losing yourself in the reading. I felt her weariness and alarm and desire to be home, that the journey had really ended before the "end". I find this often too in my experience - you find something important on the way there, so [...]

    22. Steve on said:

      Mid 3. The author undertakes a journey to discover what it felt like to have no real destination in mind and whether true solitude was possible with no real anticipation of arriving somewhere. This self-confessed loner recounts her memorable encounters aboard a cargo ship bound for America, and then on a circuitous journey by Amtrak across the States. Yet, this is no simple travelogue, as Diski relates her experience to memoirs of her childhood and adolescence from a broken home, and confinement [...]

    23. Hilary on said:

      Author Jenny Diski, for reasons best known to herself, decides to tour the circumference of America (or more or less; there s a big gap in the west coast) by train. But this isn t a travel book; it s mainly an account of the people she meets on these trainsmostly in the smoking carriages, and they re mostly people the rest of us would go out of our way to avoidpartly a reflection on the train service itself, where delays of up to half a day are not only not impossible but are almost expected, an [...]

    24. Ashley on said:

      Bit of an odd one this. It wasn't an entirely travel book, half of it was about the author's history of being in mental institutions, tales of her childhood, her love of smoking and her mental health problems, which isn't necessarily bad in itself but just not was I expecting. There didn't seem any real reason why she went on the trip and how she just decided to skip the last few days of her schedule seemed a bit of a cop-out and it ended really quickly. I read a far better travel book about an [...]

    25. Carron Brown on said:

      This isn't your normal sugary look-at-the-landscape travel book. This is by far more about the people and the journey. In fact, by the sounds of the book, Jenny doesn't really look out the window that much. I was really drawn by the first leg of her journey, travelling by boat from the UK to the US - that sounded great! I think I was less enamoured by the train journey because the smoking cars put me off (I'm not a smoker). However, the people she meets and their stories are what makes this book [...]

    26. Bella Grewal on said:

      Läste boken när jag reste till Thailand. I egenskap av lokförare var det extra kul att läsa en bok som handlade om att resa med tåg. Jag har ingen erfarenhet av att resa runt i USA på det här sättet som Jenny gör. Man fick följa hennes möten med människor i rökkupén och hennes egna tankar om livet och döden och en mängd saker däremellan. Det verkar inte som om persontrafiken på järnvägen i USA är varken utbredd eller prioriterad (godstågen går först där, som jag förstod [...]

    27. Basia Korzeniowska on said:

      A most extraordinary book. A paean to smoking and travel, Jenny Diski reminds me of myself as a child - reading endlessly on the Circle line - and of my mother - life punctuated by frequent cigarette breaks. what more can a reader want than to feel so totally at home with the writer. she has a wonderful air of detachment, yet you could hardly get closer as she is so painfully - and humorously - honest about everything she encounters.

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