I was going to share a favorite line from my latest favorite book. But as I began to type, I couldn’t stop. One line turned into paragraphs and then into pages:
Every now and then and in the right circumstance, I really do like people. I better come clean, and admit that the right circumstance, the essential circumstance, is strangeness. Strangerhood seems to be what I need in order to see people clearly and be touched by them. . . .
My problem, if that is how it should be termed, and it probably should, is that I am never lonely on my own, but I often feel estrangement when in company . . .
“You seem to be able to talk to everyone. And they want to talk to you,” she said to me. “You have a way with people.”
I didn’t say: only in the company of strangers who are guaranteed to disappear back into their own lives.
— Jenny Diski, from Stranger On A Train
Stranger on a Train is a called a “travel book” but it is less about place and more about people. The landscapes offer interior views, rendered tight and sharp with keen perception. Part travelogue, part memoir, there’s a beautiful thread of longing here.
Reading, like traveling, offers great passages of time and self. I couldn’t read fast enough, and yet wanted to slow down and savor the turn of phrase, a sideways glance, and every stop along the wandering path.