Tracks relates a train journey from Baltimore to Chicago through the eyes of a number of passengers and the conductor. Each has their own reasons for being on the train, and their own stories but for a time their paths cross and in some cases affect the course of their fellow passengers' lives. This is effectively another book of short stories tied together by the intersection of the characters' lives and a common location. However there is also a definite progression in the story with events affecting more than one character unfolding as the journey advances.
The passengers represent a real cross-section of society, from the soldier who is questioning the morality of the war he has fought and the widowed Holocaust survivor to the computer nerd turned criminal and the hit man with a job to carry out on board. There are couples looking for lifelong happiness and wondering how to achieve it, and others cheating on their partners. As someone who spends a fair bit of time on trains it is a great concept that takes the time-killing game of making up stories about other passengers to a whole new level.
I was so drawn to some of the characters and could entirely identify with the situations they were dealing with. Others who fall way outside anything I know were well depicted, and while this book adopts a certain economy with descriptions I felt I could picture them all. It was interesting to see how different travellers were dealing with similar situations in very different ways, and to see how brief encounters could impact on their lives.
I loved this book, the subject matter and the style, unfussy yet beautiful. Well worth a read!
Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 5*