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I was reading through the collection and it struck me, along with other things I had written, that travel and journeys are present in many stories. It’s one of those moments when you encounter your own work and see it outside the act of composition. This happens to people all the time.

Years ago a friend only discovered she owned lots of green things; whether they were clothes or vases, kitchen bowls, and so on until it was shown to her. Not the same green, various hues of green. Artists do this all the time with the color themes they choose, deliberately or intuitively and composers do too, with their chord sequences and cadences that give the work a definite signature.

In my own case travel, or rather journey emerged once I reviewed each story. Travel is not the same as journey, not in fiction. Travel can be about claiming an exotic place but returning to home from where the trip began, essentially unchanged. This is what tourists do. A journey is about change. I have lived in several counties for periods that have exerted change, sometime in outlook, language, or perception. I suppose in a way I have brought that to the stories as fundamental to a character, to a person’s life.

The opening story, “Written” is about a man who has moved into a run-down district, into a new house to start a new life.

I came with nothing, alone: only a few cartons of things, which were not really needed but they gave me something to hang onto. Things I had had for some time, but not with any personal feeling attached to anything; the semblance of life lived; the sum of what I had acquired to date.

And so this theme of moving and searching is explored through the other stories: “Talking” and in “The Nine Avenues” itself, which is set on a highway with all the coming and going of people on a hundred thousand journeys to wherever they have to be.

Guy Cranswick
20 April 2012

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