I finished reading Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser this morning. Rarely have I been so eager to reach the end of a novel to get it over with. De Kretser exhausts over 500 pages attempting to make a profound statement about travel and I’d be lying if I said I understood what exactly she was trying to convey. It’s clear she also has something to say about the internet and the advance of technology but I can’t figure out that message either. To quote one of my favorite movie lines, “what we have here is a failure to communicate”.
Questions of Travel introduces us to Laura and to Ravi, two characters who inhabit the same novel but never cross paths until near the end of the novel and even then have no real impact on each other’s lives. Laura’s story is rambling, dull, and rather depressing as it recounts her aimless days doing this, that, and nothing in between bits of travel and sleeping with almost any hard luck case or loser that comes along. Ravi’s story is the stronger of the two as it chronicles his tale of profound loss, fear, and eventual second guessing over what has really happened to his family and whether he can ever return home.
It’s such a waste of potential, this novel. De Kretser has a way with words, a beautiful prose that puts you in the scene and yet this mind numbing, slow paced, going nowhere plot has sunk the novel. It could have been something great, with a lot more work from the editors.