Tag: Paul Theroux
by Jim Benning | 10.09.12 | 8:53 AM ET
Jim Benning asks the actor, director and writer about his new book and his second career in travel writing
by Eva Holland | 06.19.12 | 10:28 AM ET
The author—whose latest novel we recently excerpted—gave his top picks, plus explanations, to The Browser’s Alec Ash. And they are? Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s Antarctic memoir, “The Worst Journey in the World”; “Following the Equator” by Mark Twain; Anthony Trollope’s “The West Indies and the Spanish Main”; Carlo Levi’s “Christ Stopped at Eboli”; and “An Area of Darkness” by V.S. Naipaul.
The Cherry-Garrard and Naipaul titles are both on our list of the 100 Most Celebrated Travel Books of All Time (along with four of Theroux’s own books)—I’ll confess I’d never heard of the other three.
Before getting into his book picks, Theroux also shared his thoughts on what drives people to read about travel:
I think people read travel books either because they intend to take that trip, or because they would never take that trip. In a sense, as a writer you are doing the travel for the reader. I get emails from people saying: I loved your book about Africa, but we went to Venice instead. So I get the impression that people who read my books don’t intend to take that trip themselves. In an ideal world they would like to travel alone and go to malarial swamps, but they haven’t got the time. They only have a couple of weeks vacation. So the idea that I’m in New Guinea, facing down boys with spears saying they are going to kill me, is a thrill for them. People read travel books for the same reason that they read novels. To transport them.
by Paul Theroux | 06.05.12 | 9:36 AM ET
An excerpt from the new novel by Paul Theroux
by Jim Benning | 05.26.12 | 12:16 PM ET
Because there just aren’t enough songs about reading travel books.
The things you stumble across when you’re waking up, randomly searching for a video of Paul Theroux talking about his new novel.
It’s a nice little ditty. More of the uke-player’s ouvre, including a song about the first dog in space, can be found here.
by Jim Benning | 05.21.12 | 10:37 AM ET
Paul Theroux’s new novel, The Lower River, is about an American named Ellis Hock who returns to the African nation of Malawi nearly four decades after working there in the Peace Corps. The book got mixed reviews over the weekend. The New York Times critic liked it:
“The Lower River” is riveting in its storytelling and provocative in its depiction of this African backwater, infusing both with undertones of slavery and cannibalism, savagery and disease. Theroux exposes the paternalism of Hock’s Peace Corps nostalgia, his “sense of responsibility, almost the conceit of ownership.”
The Los Angeles Times’ critic was less impressed, finding the story “predictable, peopled with stock bit players, and disappointingly familiar.”
Theroux spoke about the novel on NPR over the weekend. The six-minute segment is worth a listen:
by Jim Benning | 06.07.11 | 4:00 PM ET
Paul Theroux’s long-running feud with Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul has apparently come to an end. The two authors shook hands in the green room at the Hey Festival late last month in Wales. Writer Reza Aslan was there. He not only posted a message on Twitter about it—“Holy Cow! I caught first face to face reconciliation of Paul Theroux & VS Naipaul. Magical moment.”—but he just happened to capture it on video:
What caused the feud? Accounts vary. According to The Telegraph, Naipaul suspected that Theroux had seduced his first wife. A New York Times report, however, emphasized Theroux’s anger over a book he’d signed: “His decades-long friendship with Mr. Naipaul imploded some 15 years ago when he discovered that a copy of one of his novels, lovingly inscribed to Mr. Naipaul, had been put up for sale.”
Whatever the cause, Theroux went on to write a great book exploring their friendship and its demise, Sir Vidia’s Shadow.
Amazingly, Naipaul was back in the headlines days after the handshake, offending countless people, when he told the Royal Geographic Society that he doesn’t think much of women writers: “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.”
by Jim Benning | 11.04.10 | 2:10 PM ET
My favorite Paul Theroux book is The Old Patagonian Express, in which he chronicled his journey by train through the Americas. Theroux had a grand time, enduring irritating travelers, witnessing a soccer riot in El Salvador and reading to the late blind Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges.
So I was happy to hear the other day from Rachel Pook, who is retracing the route Theroux followed in the book—at least from Costa Rica southward—and blogging about it.
As she explains on her site:
An urge for adventure teamed with huge admiration for Paul Theroux’s travel writing has led me to this project.
After seven years working at News International for The Times I decided to escape the confines of Fortress Wapping and do some exploring.
She embarked on the trip in August. Her last post, on Sunday, titled Altitude Sickness and a Tortoise, was from Peru.
by Jim Benning | 09.17.10 | 10:16 AM ET
What if travel writer Paul Theroux had been aboard the train journey that became a classic children's book? Jim Benning imagines the account.
by Michael Yessis | 04.21.10 | 10:29 AM ET
Paul Theroux weighs in on the state of fiction in the age of eBooks—and touches on travel—in an interview in the Atlantic.
by Tom Swick | 03.22.10 | 12:06 PM ET
On the evolving role of the travel writer in the age of mass tourism and YouTube
by Jim Benning | 03.19.10 | 1:44 PM ET
I’ve always thought “The Old Patagonian Express,” Paul Theroux’s book about his trip from the U.S. down to South America by train, was one of his best.
I’ve sometimes wondered what became of the old train he writes about near the book’s end—the one he seized on for the title. It turns out, it’s still operating.
The same starkness of place that struck Theroux in the high Patagonian desert remains. Like a photograph from an earlier era, the train and the landscape remain unchanged.
by Jim Benning | 11.18.09 | 1:50 PM ET
Paul Theroux’s new novel isn’t scheduled to be released in the U.S. until February 2010, but it’s already getting mixed reviews in the British press. It’s a mystery of sorts set in Calcutta and featuring a down-on-his-luck travel-writer-protagonist named Jerry Delfont.
Intriguingly, writes Doug Johnstone in The Independent:
Midway through the book, Delfont meets a fictional veteran US travel writer called Paul Theroux, a more successful and famous version of Delfont, whom he despises. The next 20 pages amount to a diatribe by Delfont about the act of travel writing, describing it as an emotionally stunted, puerile and selfish pastime, and brutally denouncing anyone who is stupid and arrogant enough to do it. This remarkable interlude is compelling, like rubbernecking a psychological car crash - but the rest of the novel is distinctly patchy, the bad points eventually outweighing the good.
by World Hum | 11.05.09 | 2:43 PM ET
"Leave home, travel alone, and stay on the ground"
by Michael Yessis | 08.24.09 | 2:37 PM ET
Yet one of the most intrepid travel writers alive had never driven across the U.S. So when the Smithsonian asked him and five other travel writers to take on their dream assignments, he picked the cross-country trip. He delivered a beautiful story. He writes:
In my life, I had sought out other parts of the world—Patagonia, Assam, the Yangtze; I had not realized that the dramatic desert I had imagined Patagonia to be was visible on my way from Sedona to Santa Fe, that the rolling hills of West Virginia were reminiscent of Assam and that my sight of the Mississippi recalled other great rivers. I’m glad I saw the rest of the world before I drove across America. I have traveled so often in other countries and am so accustomed to other landscapes, I sometimes felt on my trip that I was seeing America, coast to coast, with the eyes of a foreigner, feeling overwhelmed, humbled and grateful.
The other five writers involved are Susan Orlean (Destination: Morocco), Francine Prose (Japan), Geoffrey C. Ward (India), Caroline Alexander (Jamaica) and Frances Mayes (Poland). Here’s Jan Morris’s introduction to the project.
by Eva Holland | 08.21.09 | 2:18 PM ET
The islands are celebrating five decades of statehood today. In the New York Times, Paul Theroux offers a very, well, Theroux-like tribute to his adopted home: “I have lived in Hawaii longer than any other place in my life. I have murmured to myself in Africa, Asia and Britain, ‘I’d hate to die here.’ But I wouldn’t mind dying in Hawaii, which means I like living here.”
by Tom Swick | 04.10.09 | 3:42 PM ET
Contemplating and celebrating the world of travel
by Jim Benning | 02.11.09 | 10:42 AM ET
- Paul Theroux likes to spit out the window of a moving train—and other interesting tidbits from one of our favorite writers.
- With the economy in the tank, are travelers looking for “recession chic”?
- Any chance the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act we noted yesterday will actually pass? “Conditions are good for it,” one expert says.
- Cross-border bi-national marriages are great—until they fall apart. The Economist explains. (Via NYT Ideas blog)
- Kate Chambers on paying the porters, Zimbabwe-style.
- The Louvre is planning The Funeral of Mona Lisa. Paris-bound? Wear black.
- Sports Illustrated photographers went to the Grenadines to shoot part of the new Swimsuit Issue. “[A] ho-hum choice since the Caribbean is a Swimsuit Issue go-to location,” says Jaunted. Yeah, Swimsuit Issue readers around the world will be soooo disappointed.
by Michael Yessis | 01.29.09 | 8:59 AM ET
- Paul Theroux remembers John Updike.
- American Airlines has been flying some planes without enough life rafts. Its short-term solution: Cap the number of passengers on the problem aircraft.
- The Big Picture shows off more of Jason Hawkes’ lovely aerial photos of London.
- Here’s a Q&A with Renia Ehrenfeucht on “the higher meaning of the humble sidewalk.”
- How are Spirit Airlines flight attendants like players for Manchester United? They both wear ads on their uniforms. (via Jaunted)
- Inside the “war on Roquefort cheese.”
- TripAdvisor’s list of America’s dirtiest hotels is out.
- Are these the top 50 adventure books of all time?
- Jason Barger pays tribute to “one of the daily unsung heroes of the air travel experience: the de-icers.”
- The “bizarre crime spree” that got this drunken Irish traveler deported from Australia included demanding money to feed his goldfish.
- World Hum gets a shout out in a Guardian piece about Twitter and travel—yes, World Hum has a Twitter feed. We’re happy to have you follow us.
by Jim Benning | 08.18.08 | 5:00 PM ET
Jim Benning asks the author of "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star" about his new book, aging and the challenge of disappearing in the age of the BlackBerry.
by Bronwen Dickey | 08.13.08 | 11:53 AM ET
Bronwen Dickey considers "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: 28,000 Miles in Search of the Great Railway Bazaar"
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