Archive for the ‘Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin’ Category

A friend gave me a charming book for Christmas, called the Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness, 751 books to cure what ails you. The amusing idea is to prescribe books to treat all kinds of ailments–a gimmick, perhaps, but well done, and filled with references to so many grand books.  It has a rather nice website, here.
I was very amused by the section on Fear of Flying, and as one of my children suffers from this disorder, I typed it up for your entertainment and relief from woe:

Flying, Fear of

Our unconventional cure for this debilitating modern affliction is to slip into your carry-on luggage an account of a pilot struggling to wrest control of a flimsy two-seater aircraft caught in a cyclone on its way from Patagonia to Buenos Aires with the Europe-bound mail: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s hair-raising Night Flight. . . . Somewhere over the Andes, Fabien is surrounded and can’t turn back. With visibility reduced to nil, he has no choice but to tough it out from his tiny cockpit, the aircraft rolling and floundering in its vast sea of pitch black. It takes all his strength to hold the controls stead so the cables don’t snap. Behind him, the radio operator gets electric shocks in his fingers when he attempts to tap out a message. No one can hear them, no one can see them. The peaks of the Andes loom up like towering waves trying to pluck them to their deaths. Any slackening of willpower, any weakening of his grip, and Fabien know they are lost.

You meanwhile—yes, you, reading Night Flight in the air-conditioned cabin of your Boeing 747 with a blanket on your knee, your gin and tonic neatly perched on your tray table, smiling flight attendants tripping down the aisle beside you, the mellow voice of the captain calmly announcing that you’re leveling out at thirty-five thousand feet, lifting the window shade with your finger to admire the low orb of the sun….Terrified, did you say? Terrified? How Fabien would smile at the thought!

If your heart insists on pounding, let it pound for Fabien and his radio-man, for the stricken wife waiting by her phone, for the pilot’s boss, Rivière, holding his terrible vigil on the tarmac. Or, for that matter, let it pound for Saint-Exupéry himself, who disappeared while flying over North Africa in 1943. Peer out your window again. See anyone trying to shoot you down? Hmm. Didn’t think so. Get back to your novel, knock back that G&T, and pull yourself up by your cozy in-flight socks.



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