Fear and uncertainty are reshaping the landscape of travel. Is the utopian potential of world-wide travel gone? Maybe. I still take much pleasure in the idea of being able to go to a different city, get to know it and learn the language, just as if it were a new home where I may settle. It’s probably driven by a longing to find a place where I “really” belong. André Aciman goes a step further. In his essay “The Contrafactual Traveler”, he writes that he is not even interested in the strange and unfamiliar: “I can’t wait to land on things I’ve known before.” This is related to his identity as an exile from Alexandria. For him, “home” is always elsewhere.
Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell has one of the strangest narrators that I have read in a long time. Helen, the main character and narrator, draws the reader in right away with her stream-of-conscious thinking. It feels like she grabs your hand and starts running, dragging you behind her. You don’t know where she is going, when she will turn a new corner, but you follow her anyway. You want to follow her. Once you are adapted to her train-of-thought it is easy to follow her along as she investigates her adoptive brother’s suicide.
Boredom is a going concern, particularly in a Western culture over-saturated with things designed to make every moment count. Freelance researcher Mary Mann began writing Yawn: Adventures in Boredom because she was concerned with her own restlessness; was she succumbing to the depression that ran in her family? Was modern malaise taking hold? Was she fundamentally ungrateful for life, as her parents had always suggested about bored people? If she was broken, was there a cure? (And if you're already rolling your eyes at Mann, this is not going to be an easy read for you.)
Last question first: We're all inherently broken, and there's no cure. People have always been bored.
What the stories in Anything Is Possible all have in common is this sense of the communality of human guilt and suffering, or what Tommy calls “this confusing contest between good and evil”, and an apprehension that “maybe people were not meant to understand things here on earth”