These paper boats of mine are meant to dance on the ripples of hours, and not reach any destination... Rabindranath Tagore

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past...F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby

We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.
On the way to the river are the old dormitories, used for something else now, with their fairy-tale turrets, painted white and gold and blue. When we think of the past it's the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.
--from Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul.
- Joyce Carol Oates

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Art of the Engine Driver

The Art of the Engine Driver by Steven Carroll was published in 2001 - Flamingo Press.
It is an Australian novel.

Vic knows
the art of engines
but knows little
of the art of family

Michael is
the engine driver's son

he dreams of beauty
family beauty
in just a snapshot

he was there
walking the night with them
to a party

this night
the wreckage of this night
become a mantra
for Michael

he returns
and returns
and returns

in dreams

and wills
another journey

Michael knows the art of cricket
but knows little

he knows little...

The art of the engine driverThe art of the engine driver by Steven Carroll
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A book that tantalises and frustrates! Tantalising thumbnails of characters drifting through a season in their lives. The just outside Melbourne setting of the 1950's is like a weigh station - taking stock of past and present before moving on. Initially, the sense of place is beautifully described and quite haunting. The linking thread is an engine driver named Vic who hopes that his steam driving worlds may move on to the electric worlds of the Spirit of Progress. But his driving worlds are overlaid with fractured realities that haunt his dreams. And Vic himself is one of those fractured realities. He and those living in the same street are on their way to an engagement party. Like a Canterbury Tales scenario, these pilgrims bring their stories with them. But the frustrating element is the spasmodic reference to a comet in the skies...perhaps symbolic of an upheaval of life. And when the upheaval comes, the drama seems to confuse, the characters seem to fizzle and maybe peter out. The art of the engine driver seems to become a little weathered.

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