Off the Rails: A Train Trip Through Life

Beppe Severgnini, trans. from the Italian by Antony Shugaar. Berkley, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-1-59240-872-6
Italian journalist Severgnini (Ciao, America!) recounts numerous train adventures in his funny and perceptive memoir. Between 1986 and 2017, Severgnini, a train buff, logged thousands of rail miles on several continents; whether it’s tackling the three-day trip from Sydney to Perth, Australia (“the most isolated metropolis on earth”), or traveling with a Donald Trump bobblehead statuette between Naples and London, Severgnini’s observations keep the narrative going (Donald Trump and Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi “both have a troubled relationship with their egos and their hair”). Severgnini humorously comments on revolting railway food, sub-par cleanliness on the Trans-Siberian Express, and the availability of Wi-Fi during a trip across America with his 20-year-old son (“it appears like an oasis in the telecommunications desert and then vanishes just as suddenly”). “Every train provides a narrative, included in the price of the ticket,” Severgnini says, explaining why trains are his preferred mode of travel—time to think, chances for meeting and talking with strangers, and being passively transported across the remarkable landscapes “without feeling we’re lazy.” This is a not-to-be-missed book for railroad fans or travelers of any mode. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Release date: 02/12/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-698-16211-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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