For anyone who has ever enjoyed the bus journey between Dublin and Dungarvan…

2002

25 October, Friday

Carole Angier’s biography of Primo Levi is pedantic, pretentious and extremely long-winded. Given that Levi was an industrial chemist in Turin (apart from his time in Poland) the effect has been lightened thus far only by a couple of descriptions of lethal laboratory conditions and subsequent explosions. Chemistry sets do not turn up in comic strips by accident.

Heavy traffic meant I did not get home until seven, having got boarded the one-thirty in Dublin. A nightmare journey: when your skin crawls at the same speed as the bus. We had to change in Waterford onto a coach that had a hole, a rectangular hole, where the second roof hatch should have been.

Halfway to Dungarvan we then had to pull over to pick up passengers from another bus, to the end of the world in Tralee. It had broken down. When they piled in, a lot of those unfortunates had to sit and get rained on behind the makeshift curtain that had been strung up across the aisle, in front of the hole.

The book is a doorstep impediment to proper appreciation. Having wondered would he ever get to Auschwitz, I closed the Levi biography when they were in the cattle wagons. This was mostly due to the fading light on the bus with the rainy hole.

One thought on “Not the Lilac Bus

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