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‘I was so absorbed by her writing it was unreal . . . I find myself hungry to find the next morsel of who Jenny was and what her life was like’ EMILIA CLARKE (on Why Didn’t You Just Do What You Were Told?)

In spite of the fact that her idea of travel is to stay home with the phone off the hook, Jenny Diski takes a trip around the perimeter of the USA by train. Somewhat reluctantly she meets all kinds of characters, all bursting with stories to tell and finds herself brooding about the marvellously familiar landscape of America, half-known already through film and television. Like the pulse of the train over the rails, the theme of the dying pleasures of smoking thrums through the book, along with reflections on the condition of solitude and the nature of friendship and memories triggered by her past times in psychiatric hospitals. Cutting between her troubled teenaged years and contemporary America, the journey becomes a study of strangers, strangeness and estrangement – from oneself, as well as from the world.

Reviews

Her writing is sensitive, sincere and sparkling.
Morning Star
(Diski's) near-erotic musings on the dreaded weed almost made me want to take up smoking again. And that's saying something.
Irish Times
Beautifully written
Times