Friday, August 5, 2011

Airport Drama

From the LA Times this morning:

“British novelist Tony Parsons is gearing up to tell tales from the terminal, as he assumes the role of writer-in-residence at London’s Heathrow Airport.  (He) will spend a week roaming the terminals in search of inspiration for his first collection of short stories… (and) hopes “Departures:  Seven Stories From Heathrow” will revive the airport fiction genre.”

I guess my life has taken a turn for the pedestrian in recent years, because when I think of airports, the following comes to mind:  stale air, indigestion, cranky children, shoulder pain from heavy bags, too much air conditioning, jarring noise, etc., etc.  Certainly not things anybody would want to read about.

I wasn’t aware that there was a genre for airport fiction, although I can think of some recent attempts to explore the theme.  In the 2009 movie Up in the Air George Clooney used airports and travel to escape forging any type of real life.  Jonathan Miles’s wildly inventive novel Dear American Airlines was written in the form of a letter from a traveler who’s been stranded, yes, in an airport.  Of course, many movies have pivotal airport scenes.  My personal favorite is from Moonstruck:  “I put a curse on that plane!”  Check out “The 25 Most Awesome Airport Scenes in Film” here.

Airports can, in fact, spur creativity.  Here’s a video made earlier this summer by two guys stuck at DFW.

But back to writing about airports.  I suppose my own short story collection would look something like this:

  1. Woman is unable to get toddler to eat bagged snack prior to boarding.  Toddler then throws hysterical, hunger-induced fit once plane begins ascent.
  2. Woman misjudges boarding time and cannot get a Chai Tea Latte.  Full of spite and regret, she can hardly swallow the Earl Gray the flight attendant has provided.
  3. Bag tips over in bathroom stall, requiring woman to kneel and reach into adjacent stall for stray lipstick, hairbrush.  She wonders about the choices she’s made in her life.
  4. Computer decides to conduct 57 updates when woman really only wanted to quickly check email before her flight.  She has also forgotten her stack of magazines.  Why can’t things ever go right for her?
You get the picture.  Parsons described airports as “places of extreme emotion,” and in my younger years, I suppose I had some of those moments.  I’ll be interested to see what he comes up with.  Nothing, however, will ever trump this moment.  I challenge him to try.


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