I can't put the guys books down...
Paul Theroux: What do you think about his books....
I can\'t put the guy\'s books down... I mean its like what\'s the next worst thing is he going to say about the place... that keeps me glued to his pages.... but he rarely says any good things about any place during his travels.... is that just a style...or is it...... he\'s just pissed...... ?
Travel writing!? Why would anyone be interested in someone’s holiday or their exaggerated scrapes in foolhardy places I asked myself? That was until I actually began on my own journey and found that novels didn’t really do it for me but that travel books did; I found them to be not only learned and informative but in the hard times comforting and inspiring.
Here's my selection of travel books that I've enjoyed on the road and since laying down the backpack (I don't do wheeled luggage!)
"The world's most perceptive travel writer"
"A book has a capacity to express a country’s heart – as long as it stays away from vacations, holidays, sightseeing and the half-truths in official handouts; as long as it concentrates on people in their landscape, and its dissonance as well as the melodies, the contradictions, and the vivid trivia – the fungi on the wet boots.”
Travel Writing: Why I Bother By Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux - father of BBC television journalist Louis and novelist Marcel, well I'm on a bit of a binge with him at the minute. He gets accused of mendacity, chauvinism as well as a perceived grumpiness but I think he's a great observer of people, things and cultures. Oh, and he's very good at aphorisms, which often makes me pause and smile (I even quote him on my travel blog profile).
I can heartily recommend his Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town, The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia and I'm reading his re-run of the same journey thirty years later, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the tracks of The Great Railway Bazaar
I have yet to read another of his most notable travel books, The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas but I look forward to that journey soon.
Paul Theroux is one of my favourite travel writers. The Great Railway Bazaar is a classic - I read it in only a couple of days as I couldn't out it down. His writing style is so intelligent, so insightful, so accurate, and even his faults are fascinating. I've started Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, which is more thoughtful than The Great Railways Bazaar and just as well composed.
Just finished Ghost Train Vinovat and I have to say that it was a little disappointing compared to Dark Star Safari and Great Railway. Highlights however were meeting people he had met in the Railway Bazaar in Burma; another charitable incident in Burma (what a place Burma is and can confirm they are the kindest people around) his diatribes about Singapore (which were so true; it's a suffocating place), meeting Murakami in Japan. The Vietnam section was a bit unquestioning if you ask me though.
Some great quotes as ever though.
Travel means living among strangers, their characteristic stinks and sour perfumes, eating their food, listening to their dramas, enduring their opinions, often with no language in common, being always on the move towards an uncertain destination, creating an itinerary that is continually shifting, sleeping alone, inventing the trip, cobbling together a set of habits in order to stay sane and rational, finding ways to fill the day and be enlightened, avoiding danger, keeping out of trouble, and immersed in the autobiographical, for my journal, writing everything down in order to remember, reflecting on where I am and what I’m doing.
I also love it when he's talking with other writers like Arthur C Clarke and Pico Iyer and latterly about other travel writers...Naipaul of course comes up!
I read 'Happy Isles of Oceania'... mainly because I knew he went to the Cook Islands an we were going there as part of our trip as well... he stayed at the most expensive hotel in Aitutaki (about $5000 a night!)... of course, we didn't stay in that hotel, but we had dinner there on our wedding night, so it was nice to read about it anyway!
I haven't read any more of his books, but I have 'Riding the iron rooster', 'Dark star safari' and 'The great railway bazaar' on my shelves
I've done a lot of reading but have not read any Paul Theroux. I've just requested The Great Railway Bazaar from the library. They should have it for me early next week. Does anyone want to grab and copy and read it the same time I am? We could have a discussion about it when we finish.
Does anyone want to grab and copy and read it the same time I am? We could have a discussion about it when we finish.
I'd love to read it with you!, let me know when you get it from the library :o)
Will do. I should have it early part of next week. I will keep you posted. We can have a little book club.
Dark Star Safari for me is the most satisfying Theroux book. His insights perceptive,immediate and real. Mind you I would not call it a "feel good" armchair travelogue. However like the best travel books it takes you on a journey where you develop an understanding of the place and more-so the writer. Travel is great way to explore our own psyche, prejudices and preconceptions, it's a way to grow and evolve. In Theroux's books you really get a sense of where he was not just physically but mentally as he wrote them. I find myself often disagreeing with him in the end they are very satisfying reads.
Have a great time reading them.