The Maintenance of Headway (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

There's something weirdly cozy about Mills' workaday absurdism. I probably read the entire book wearing an oblivious and stupid grin. I loved every minute I had with these amiably suffering impotents, these cogs in a long-broken machine. There is a guileful system or anti-system at work here, bent on an agenda of cognitive amputation, of excising free will or at least utterly undermining the reason of our heroes. But always they soldier on, determined with good humor to find the position of least discomfort beneath the threatening, evil clouds of entropy.

— From Adam


From the Booker-shortlisted author acclaimed as having "no literary precedent" (Independent) comes a gently absurd examination of the systems that trap and frustrate us daily. Fans of dry humor will enjoy this tale of mishap and folly, told from the point of view of a bus driver who's been charged to maintain a precise distance between himself and other buses--a directive that leads him to ignore the very passengers he's meant to serve.

Witty, allegorical, and intelligent, this is a novel for all those who have ever run for a bus, only to have it pull away as they reach its doors. Showcasing all of Mills' strengths, it is the perfect reintroduction for American readers to an incomparable talent.

About the Author

Magnus Mills is the author of The Restraint of Beasts, All Quiet on the Orient Express, and Three to See the King. He lives in London.

Praise For…

“It's finally happened: Britain's most famous bus-driving novelist has given us a novel about buses. All your questions will be answered: why do you wait for ages only for three to come at once? Who are those men who hang around bus stops muttering into handsets? And why do buses suddenly terminate halfway into your journey? . . . There is a perfect match between Mills' subject and his peculiar obsessions . . . Brilliant.” —Independent

“Once you've read this excellent, funny, intelligent book, it will make you look in a more kindly way on that harried driver as he zooms away into the night.” —Daily Telegraph

“Mills' deadpan humor about the surreal workings of the transport authority has a distinct ring of truth. This novel should be required reading for those in charge of our chaotic public transport system.” —Daily Mail

“A subtle meditation on what it means to try to impose order in a fundamentally chaotic world . . . I suspect Mills has much more to say about power, officialdom, and even buses than he has done here. However, his reticence has always given readers space to think, and his deadpan celebration of chaos is even heart-warming.” —The Guardian

Product Details
ISBN: 9781632860361
ISBN-10: 1632860368
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: May 19th, 2015
Pages: 160
Language: English