Friday, 18 October 2013

One for the Road – Commuter Literature


 A good read is hard to find on the way to work. Many opt for Metro, which despite filling the tedium between stops, is hardly a stimulating read for the busy mind. The Evening Standard, whilst being of a higher caliber, falls into a similar category. But a book is far too long for a journey that is under an hour, so what actually is there?

The short story often seems to garner an undeserved disdain. A select few culprits having filled their own with inaccessible symbolism, combined with increasingly pretentious criticism has resulted in it becoming severed from our daily intake of prose. We argue however, that it is in fact perfect for the commuter. In fact, we've selected a couple that’ll fit the bill, no matter the time of day.

First up, is the widely praised Freakonomics series Whilst technically non-fiction, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner create captivating stories that challenge our views on many world events purely by playing with statistics. One example, a chapter entitled “Why do drug dealers live with their moms?” is a story in itself, fascinating from the outset.

We would recommend this as something to be read in the morning on the way to the office. The effect of such radical thinking had a way of igniting our own creative juices, we found.

In terms of the route home, we realize that stimulation is not necessarily what is needed. So we offer an alternative from the godfather of all masculinity: Ernest Hemingway. With copies in abundance, The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway strike a great balance, allowing the mind to drift to imagining the masculine exploits of a man in a simpler time whilst appreciating a great narrative.

We’d suggest giving “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” a glance. Originally published in Esquire in 1936, it is lauded as one of Hemingway’s greatest works and focuses on a man dying of his wounds on safari. This all by a man who hunted Nazi U-boats for a year in his spare time.

If Hemingway isn't your preferred tipple try The Acid House, Irvine Welsh’s collection of disenfranchisement with a darkly humorous twist.

Die hard Metro fans will bemoan the alternatives. Then again, if you have a tablet, you have them all in the same place. With the options side by side, we’re more convinced by the short-stories. 

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