Monday, 3 June 2013

Nowhere To Go

Before I started my Swenglish project and hit the road, I had a massive clear out, getting rid of clothes, books and CDs, but I just couldn't give away books that were signed by the author. One of those books were Ben Graham's Nowhere To Go.

When I unpacked my few belongings in my new home in Gothenburg, the title Nowhere To Go leapt out at me, making me a bit sad. For the first time in my life I live on my own, but am far from settled. Instead of dealing with stuff like a blocked drain and a dead basil plant, I'm escaping into the world of fiction. Nowhere To Go is fiction but I suspect it is close to the author's own experience of being a bit of a drop-out from society.

Reading Nowhere to Go made me think of Kerouac's On the Road with the romantic notion of travelling and taking drugs and just hanging around, trying to get by. But this book feels closer to home. The road trip takes place in Eastern Europe and all the characters are English working class with fantastic Yorkshire accents. Vic, the narrator, is more of an observer than a participant and I especially love his walk through Prague one hung-over morning.

It's a short book, more of a novella but I think that's a strength. Instead of focusing on life back in "boring Britain" the story is basically the trip to Prague and back. Vic's reflections are thoughtful and poetic, showing the gap between the beatniks and "the neatniks". The book is worth reading alone for the brilliant description of a night out playing with national stereotypes  "France glowers over, sipping a cognac at the bar, an elegant femme on his arm, while Britain sulks on the sidelines."

I can't get enough of road trip romanticising, but perhaps it isn't the kind of book I should be reading right now. I should appreciate that I'm in a clean, comfortable and warm flat instead of "being transported in a metal ice box through a bleak inhospitable landscape on a road trip to nowhere". However I will finish with another quote from the book that kind of describe my life in general: "this temporary resting place on the outskirts of adventure". To read more about what I'm up to check out my Swenglish blog.

Nowhere To Go was originally written in 1998, but published in 2010. To read more about the book and the author visit his blog: