From the bestselling author of The Art of Travel comes a wittily intriguing exploration of the strange "non-place" that he believes is the imaginative center of our civilization.
Given unprecedented access to one of the world’s busiest airports as a “writer-in-residence,” Alain de Botton found it to be a showcase for many of the major crosscurrents of the modern world—from our faith in technology to our destruction of nature, from our global interconnectedness to our romanticizing of the exotic. He met travelers from all over and spoke with everyone from baggage handlers to pilots to the airport chaplain. Weaving together these conversations and his own observations—of everything from the poetry of room service menus to the eerie silence in the middle of the runway at midnight—de Botton has produced an extraordinary meditation on a place that most of us never slow down enough to see clearly. Lavishly illustrated in color by renowned photographer Richard Baker, A Week at the Airport reveals the airport in all its turbulence and soullessness and—yes—even beauty.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: A Week at the Airport|
|Release Date: 09-21-2010|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House, Inc.|
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|Parent title||A Week at the Airport|
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A Week at the Airport
While punctuality lies at the heart of what we typically understand by a good trip, I have often longed for my plane to be delayed-so that I might be forced to spend a bit more time at the airport. I have rarely shared this aspiration with other people, but in private I have hoped for a hydraulic leak from the undercarriage or a tempest off the Bay of Biscay, a bank of fog in Malpensa or a wildcat strike in the control tower in Málaga (famed in the industry as much for its hot- headed labour relations as for its even-handed command of much of western Mediterranean airspace). on occasion, I have even wished for a delay so severe that I would be offered a meal voucher or, more dramatically, a night at an airline's expense in a giant concrete kleenex box with unopenable windows, corridors decorated with nostalgic images of propeller planes and foam pillows infused with the distant smells of kerosene.
In the summer of 2009, I received a call from a man who worked for a company that owned airports. It held the keys to Southampton, Aberdeen, Heathrow and Naples, and oversaw the retail operations at Boston Logan and Pittsburgh international. The corporation additionally controlled large pieces of the industrial infrastructure upon which European civilisation relies (yet which we as individuals seldom trouble ourselves about as we use the bathroom in Bia_ystok or drive our rental car to Cádiz): the waste company Cespa, the Polish construction group Budimex and the Spanish toll-road concern Autopista.
My caller explained that his company had lately developed an interest in literature and had taken a decision to invite a writer to spend a week at its newest passenger hub, Terminal 5, ...