Today we talk about Air Lines: Short Stories to Be Read on Planes, a book by John Power, published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author John Power, to get to know him better, what was the moment that led him to the writing of his book Air Lines: Short Stories to Be Read on Planes, as well as how it started his fascination for the means of transport.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- Is there a particular moment in your life that led you to the writing of your book? What was it?
This book began to take shape several years ago following some trips I took to France, one of my favourite places to visit. I realised the value of writing for an international audience, finding different voices, themes, and styles to mirror the diversity around me. The idea of writing stories ‘to be read on planes’ seemed like a neat framework for this global kind of writing – my stories are not about air travel; rather, they are about the destinations, observations, and micro-events that take place within the context of our journeys through life. Also, I have been interested in the idea of a ‘book as object’ for some time. By referring to a book ‘to be read on planes’, I’m encouraging the reader to see that a book is a physical object, which can be both a literary work and a practical object designed to suit a specific reading environment. Of course, you don’t have to be in a plane to read this book!
- What would you like to hear from your readers?
I hope readers will enjoy this book in different ways. I enjoyed choosing different settings in different countries and epochs for these stories, and I hope readers will appreciate the broad mix of styles and interests. If readers say these stories feel like they were written by different authors, then I will have achieved my goal of presenting a panoramic, multi-faceted view of the world which celebrates life’s incredible variations. On the other hand, there are bound to be connections and links between these mixed stories… perhaps some common vocabulary that drifts from one story to another, reminding the reader that short stories are never truly self-contained. Or a metaphor that accidentally appears in different stories like a friend who appears at your doorstep unexpectedly from time to time. I hope readers will say they have enjoyed the experimentalism and deliberately jumbled subjects of these stories. It’s OK to celebrate completely different attitudes and styles in one book, and it’s OK to express a medley of different voices and tones.
- How come are you so fascinated by the means of transport and what happened inside them?
Transport, and, more importantly, the actions and events that occur in and around them, are all about movement. I have always relied on movement and exploration to discover new worlds and ideas. Nothing is more wonderful than looking through a window while travelling somewhere new. When flying I always choose a window seat. In 2022, following a trip to Rouen (my favourite French city), I flew out of Paris and watched the Eiffel Tower become a thumb-sized piece on a Monopoly board, and observed the landscape merge seamlessly into the Swiss Alps and then the brownness of the Middle East. Travel is a reminder that the landscape is one borderless domain, and we humans are one collective occupant of that domain. Travel dissolves people’s oppositions and reinforces their shared, miniscule places in the world. Transport consolidates these messages with every trip, and invites travellers to ponder places without boundaries or borders.
- Is there a book you are particularly attached to and that has taught you something?
Throughout my adult life I have maintained a close relationship with This Business of Living, Diaries 1935-1950, by the Italian writer Cesare Pavese. Each of Pavese’s brief diary entries is as powerful as a novel. He has a way of describing a rural scene so vividly that you can smell they hay in the fields, or sense the quiver in his voice when he makes a casual remark about an unsuccessful first date. From a writer’s perspective, his ability to speak honestly and portray emotional transparency are exquisite reminders that good writing is all about truth. He writes to describe mysteries that need resolutions, and not to impress readers with literary acrobatics or fancy academic references. Pavese has taught me that we should write ONLY when we have something to say or ask, and that writing should awaken all the readers’ senses with its simplicity and rawness. Passion, enquiry, anguish, and a constant search for meaning are also omnipresent in his writing. Pavese is trapped permanently inside an egg, always trying to hatch.
- Are you working on a new writing project you can tell us about?
Yes, I love short stories, but I am equally keen to experiment with a novel-length work to explore the opportunities that a broader canvas might offer. I am halfway through a novel called Last Resort, which is about a young man who – quite literally – leaves his old world behind him and disappears. I won’t go into detail about the plot for obvious reasons. This work contains a larger crowd of characters than I am used to dealing with, but I am enjoying the freedom to reveal and explore their personalities over greater time intervals. As a journalist and editor, I am most familiar with short projects – articles and essays that are written in a day or two, and then submitted to make way for the next piece of work. The beauty of writing a novel, by contrast, is that the project can linger and grow in the mind for years, free to evolve with a life of its own. I hope to complete Last Resort within the next year.
Europe Books thanks the author, John Power once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside him on the editorial path that led to the publication of his book Air Lines: Short Stories to Be Read on Planes. We wish him the best of luck for his book and for his future works.
To you, my dear reader, may this book catch your interest in relation to the different settings in different countries and times for the stories here told; may it get your curiosity in relation to the various subject matters here described and mix of different voices and tones here “listened”.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy your reading!