Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the chronotope (a knot of time and space which provides a fundamental building block of narrative representation) is one that hasn’t been nearly enough studied with relation to the short story. This is quite possibly because, disappointingly, Bakhtin himself completely ignores the form, and moreover, never hypothesizes a chronotope of the train. Such a chronotope is perfect for the idea of a private meeting space, a place for the telling of stories and sharing of secrets (and the not-telling of what is really important) while whizzing through time and space. But Bakhtin’s omission is no great loss, as Orr, with her customary skill and deftness, illustrates the principle perfectly.
First published in Light Box, Daunt Books, 2016