The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Tim Parks: The Romance of Train Stations


Taken from his new book, Italian Ways: On and Off the Rails from Milan to Palermo, Tim Parks considers the emotional drama of the Italian train station:

The train station is the ideal scenario for greetings and farewells. The car is too banal. What does it mean to set off in a car? Nothing. The airport is too exhausting and impersonal, the plane itself remote, unseen, the barriers and security disturbing. Here the powerful beast of the locomotive thrusts its nose under the great arch of the station. The lines straighten from the last bend. Clanking and squealing, the train slows. The last moments of waiting begin. Eyes focus on the platform, keen to possess their loved ones; in the train corridor, meanwhile, the long-awaited beloved is jostling and jostled, luggage at his heels. The train slows, slows, slows, teasing everyone on both sides of the divide, making them wait, making them savor the tension between absence and presence.

The cover design is by the talented Jaya Miceli by the way…

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