The Maintenance of Headway, By Magnus Mills

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The Independent Culture

Formerly known as the novelist who drove a bus, Magnus Mills has finally written a novel about buses. At its heart lies the bureaucratic imperative that "headway" in the system can only be maintained if there's a regular time lag between buses. But as we know from bitter experience, buses generally like to travel in threes.

Narrated by a driver who spends his time playing the system, the novel also reveals why buses suddenly terminate halfway through journeys, and why others speed by without a second glance.

On a more philosophical level, Mills admires how readily large British institutions absorb the mavericks in their midst. It's a witty and idiosyncratic read - though you'd have to be a bit of a train-spotter to want to hop on board.

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