Photo of Heathrow by Sheree Zielke used under a Creative Commons license.
Alain de Botton, A Week at the Airport (Vintage, 2010).
The owners of the new Terminal 5 at Heathrow invited de Botton to spend a week at the airport as Writer-In-Residence. The result was this delightful little book — more of an essay, really, with lovely pictures by Richard Baker. An ideal time to start reading it is about two hours before landing on a flight into Heathrow, or you wait another hour you might be able to finish it while standing in the passport control line, like I did.
The author’s site offers three excerpts. Here is his CV. Here’s his Wikipedia entry. Dan Milmo (The Guardian) reported on de Botton’s assignment. Check it out on Google Books, or here’s an excerpt in The Sunday Times. Boyd Tonkin (The Independent) says banality and sublimity circle in a perpetual holding pattern. Dan Hill enjoyed it hugely in a holding pattern above Sydney. Kerri Shadid says it has a magical touch of questioning human behavior and a poetic use of words. Donna Marchetti calls it a clever, quirky book. Geoff Nicholson says a few hours with de Botton is time well spent. Dwight Garner says it’s as intense as a volume of poems. Kirk LaPointe says it teems with beauty. Rob Verger (Boston Globe) says it isn’t always gripping. Karen calls it delightful, reflective and thought-provoking. Helen Gallagher says it explores the airport as a “non-place.” Jessica Holland (The Guardian) says it’s as perky as a stewardess. Frank Bures interviewed de Botton. Daniel Trilling interviewed him for the New Statesman. Watch this clip of him talking to The Daily Mail. Listen to him on NPR’s On Point. If Caleb Crain reviewed it, I haven’t seen any sign of the review.