Station to Station

My new book STATION TO STATION: PEOPLE, PLACES AND STORIES ON THE GREAT WESTERN LINE,  based on my explorations of places along the line between London and Bristol, will be published by Guardian Books on May 14, 2015.

Station to Station can perhaps be best described as ‘psychogeography on wheels’: written both for those who travel every day and the occasional wanderer, exploring overlooked corners of England by rail. It arose out of my time as ‘Writer on the Train’ for First Great Western.

You can pre-order a copy by clicking on this link.

Here is an extract from the Guardian Books publicity for the book:

The line from London to Bristol connects two great cities, but what lies in between? London’s western suburbs, the Thames Valley, acres of farmland punctuated by tourist traps and provincial towns; what could possibly be of interest in such a landscape? To his surprise, James Attlee – a regular traveller on the route – finds himself knee-deep in stories, the line awash with ghosts, including those of Charles I, Oscar Wilde, T.E. Lawrence, the Beautiful Spotted Boy, Haile Selassie, Stanley Spencer, Diana Dors, Eddie Cochran and of course the creator of the line himself, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Among the living he seeks the stories of the overlooked workers who keep the trains running – including the man who flies an owl to scare the pigeons out of Paddington station. Drawing on his own experience as a commuter Attlee explores the effect of velocity on vision, and the links railways have with music and literature.

Despite the ease with which it slips backwards and forwards in time, this is not another nostalgic book about ‘heritage’ England. As Britain embarks on the greatest period of rail construction since the nineteenth century, the author argues that trains are the future, not the past. Will increased connectivity really guarantee general prosperity this time around, as Victorian engineers promised it would 175 years ago?

About the Author:

James Attlee is the author of Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey and Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight

Reviews for Isolarion: ‘He had me purring from the word go … unique and very special’ Geoff Dyer, Guardian; ‘A vivid account of daily life, fluid and unsettling, in a modern British town with powerful allegorical reflections on the connections between past and present, time and space, and high culture and the hard scrabble world that sustains it’ Economist

Reviews for Nocturne: ‘Nocturne is an inspiration. It makes you want to pull a chair out into the garden and bathe in the moonlight’ New York Times; ‘Remarkably good writing … I know that I am going to keep this book by me for rereading, and it seems likely that other readers will want to do the same’ Diana Athill, Literary Review; ‘Vagrant, erudite, frequently comical. A stylist of amazing wit and skill. A compendious, moving and impassioned guide’ Brian Dillon, The Irish Times



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