by Bayard Godsave
The setting, the dense mist that had settled on
Well, I thought, this is all very dramatic. But the real drama was unfolding elsewhere.
Above our heads, the British author sat in his coach seat, patiently waiting as once again the voice of the captain came over the 727’s PA system. This time, there were no more assurances that they would be landing “just as soon as this fog lifts.” This time he told them that he had bad news, that the plane could no longer circle the skies above
As he thought about this, the captain’s voice came over the PA once more. The plane was running low on fuel, and would have to land in
But once on the ground, there was a genuine revolt. Angry passengers—men and women who lived in Madison, and only wanted to be allowed home—got up from their seats and insisted they be let off the plane. The crew resisted for a while, but finally they had to relent, and Jim Crace slipped in with the stream of Americans making their exodus from the plane.
“But how am I to get to
He stood on the side of the road, just outside the airport, put out his thumb, and waited. And it wasn’t long before a car stopped, one of his fellow passengers, stranded, like Jim, in
Jim’s reading that night (which was on time and as scheduled) was amazing. As he spoke about the genesis of his latest novel, he spoke of the importance of letting the story take its own directions. “Narrative has been around for as long as human beings have, it’s learned a few things,” he said. “Narrative is wise.” And I thought of all he’d been through to get here. It was as if the story he’d told, the story of his trip, had always been waiting to happen, and it was by trusting in that story, and letting unfold as it would, that Jim was able to get here safely, and on time.