Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Contemporary Irish Literature’

I was in the bookshop a few days back, when I saw this book nestled deep in the bookshelf. The cover was beautiful and the blurb was interesting – it was a story of a father driving a long way across a snowy landscape to get his son back home. I love stories set in snowy landscapes and this one had a road trip tucked in – what is not to like?

Tom is a photographer who lives in Belfast in Northern Ireland. He is happily married to Lorna and they have two children, Luke and Lilly. Luke is in college in a city called Sunderland while Lilly is in school. It is Christmas time. It is snowing all around. Luke is stuck in Sutherland and he is not well. The flights have been cancelled because of the bad weather. Lorna asks Tom to take his car and go and bring Luke back. As Tom embarks in his long drive, he narrates the story of his life. The narration flits between the present and the past as Tom tells us about the people whom he meets during this present trip and the conversations he has with them, while also switching back to the past, frequently, when tells us about how he met Lorna, how they fell in love, and the challenges they faced before they got married. During his narration we encounter a mysterious character called Daniel, whom Tom refers to occasionally, and we wonder who he is. Two-thirds into the story the mystery behind Daniel is revealed slowly. Who is Daniel? What is the mystery behind him? Is Tom able to get to Luke in the snowy weather? The answers to these questions form the rest of the story.

Travelling in a Strange Land‘ is a beautiful story about love, family, and the relationship between parents and children. It is filled with joy in some parts and is heartbreaking in others. It is also filled with descriptions of music and photography which are a pleasure to read. David Park’s prose is spare and poetic. It is 164 pages long and it is amazing how much the author has packed in such a slim book. I loved the book. I have always had a soft corner for Irish literature and this book makes me love it more. I hope to read more of David Park’s work.

I will leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book.

Parenting

“…bringing up a child isn’t like driving this car where I have the voice to guide me and, despite the snow, the tracks of other cars to follow, signals to tell me when to stop and when to go, warnings about possible hazards. Instead what you have is a kind of blizzard of conflicting and confusing ideas where, despite thinking you know the best direction to take, it soon becomes obvious that you’ve lost your way and the familiar landmarks that you put so much store by have disappeared in a white-out.”

New Born Baby

“The hands are most incredible, sculpted perfect and made from still-wet clay so when I touch one with my finger I’m frightened it might puddle out of shape and then they tighten on mine and nothing has ever felt like that before or since.”

Photography

“And I come to understand the truth of what Ansel Adams said : that you don’t make a photograph just with a camera, but that you bring to the act all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

“People don’t understand photographs. They think they always freeze the moment in time but the truth is that they set the moment free from it and what the camera has caught steps forever outside its onward roll. So it will always exist, always live just as it was in that precise second, with the same smile or scowl, the same colour of sky, the same fall of light and shade, the very same thought or pulse of the heart. It’s the most perfect thing that sets free the eternal in the sudden stillness of the camera’s click. I find a comfort in that and I’ll take comfort anywhere it offers itself.”

Have you read ‘Travelling in a Strange Land‘? What do you think about it?

Read Full Post »