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Departures by Tony Parsons

Airport fiction of aliteral kind, TonyParsons follows inAlain de Botton'sfootsteps asHeathrow Airpor'swriter-in-residence.This collection of seven stories,slim enough to be read in the waitprior to departure, opens up thelabyrinthian inner sprawl of theairport, from the exotic menagerieof animals in its cargo terminal tothe everymen working in passportand air traffic control. The storiesare hit-and-miss - short, gentle, ofvarying emotional intensity. Thebest of them capture the surrealand queasywonder of travel, fromthe poetic elation of a pilotsteering through the expanse ofcloud and sky, to an unexpectedconnection between the airport'sanimal inspector and a beautifulactress mourning the mid-airdeath of her golden retriever.