I've read this other book on a lazy summer day.
Italian Ways (On and Off the Rails From Milan to Palermo) written by Tim Parks.
Wonderful and hilariously funny. H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S.L.Y. funny.
If you know Italy and if you have taken the train in Italy - then this a book for you to read. If you're interested in reading how Italian minds work, seen by a British guy who's lived there for 30 years, then go for it!
While reading the book I kept thinking about all the people I had met during my train journeys. Last year while chugging along the United States from Chicago to LA I met this older Moroccan guy who insisted to speak French to me even though he had been living in the States for more than 30 years and his French was no longer what it surely had been as I could hardly understand what he was talking about. There was this other guy who kept mentioning his "special lady friend" who lived somewhere in Eastern Europe. I just kept smiling and didn't wanna go into any details :-) Then this very nice LA lady who told me how she met her US husband in Florence (I am a sucker for romantic stories!).
My latest train companion was a lady I met while coming back from Italy at the beginning of July. She was from Naples but lived in Switzerland half of her live. She immediately began telling me about her daughter, the problems they had. Then on about her life, her love life. When I wanted to continue reading my book though ("The Help" by Kathryn Stockett), she kept insisting that "dai, parliamo e facciamo amicizia" (it means something like - let's talk and become friends"). I had to laugh! What do you reply to such an offer? Luckily for me she received a phone call from a friend and forgot all about the "let's become friends" part until our ways parted in the station of Berne :-)
I've always wondered why people during train journeys tell me incredible stories. Incredible personal stories. Intimate stories.
Maybe because I am a good listener but mainly, I think, because a train journey is somehow not "real". You meet, you talk i.e. you confess, you leave at the next station (or whenever), you never see each other again. Must be liberating to talk to a stranger. At least for some (not for me - I prefer to listen and talk about it in my blog - if my train companions only knew SMILE).
PS: I will have to read more books written by Tim Parks!