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ALSO BY PAUL THEROUX Fiction Waldo Fong and the Indians Girls at Play Murder in Mount Holly Jungle Lovers Sinning with A. The old Patagonian express by Paul Theroux, , Pocket Books edition, in English. 11 editions of The old Patagonian express found in the catalog. Download ebook for print-disabled Download Protected DAISY. [PDF] Download The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through The Americas Free Oline.
Mariner Books reprint , Paul Theroux is seventy-four years old, my age. He has written some fifty books, almost twenty of them travel books, and is the best travel writer of my generation. He was my conductor on the Ghost Train to the Eastern Star We have been so many places together that I have lost track of the journeys. Still we have half a dozen mutual acquaintances, and every year somebody asks me if I know Theroux. They always seem puzzled when I say we have never met.
But what real chance did I have of becoming a roamer?
I, a secular Christian from Belle Meade in Nashville, the only child of loving, adoring parents, and a student too successful in school and with too many friends for his own good? The year I planned to teach in Sierra Leone ended before it began after Mother telephoned me in Britain a dozen days in a row begging [End Page ] me to return to Tennessee.
Many travelers and most tourists are romantics. A curmudgeon is simply an older person who tells the truth, someone who has aged into thinking socially expected lies are not only unworthy of fabrication, but also probably dangerous to individuals and to society itself. In describing his trip from Capetown to northeast Angola, Theroux criticizes the ignorant and dreamily high minded. He condemns the voyeurs of poverty, slum tourists who titillate themselves by visiting African shanty towns.
He is there for the ride. He is there to observe the people, just ordinary people. What he delivers are his personal thoughts on what he sees and the people he meets.
Particularly this book, is more about the act of traveling rather than the places visited. I would say this book is as much or even more about Theroux than the places visited. No, that is wrong, you learn both about the author and about places.
You learn about the countries, the mentality of the people living there and the feel of the land. He travels without credit cards, without a camera or a tape recorder.
He listens to people, ordinary people he meets along the way. During the off hours along the route, he transcribes from his notes what these people have said and what he has seen.
He expresses himself wonderfully. It is his ability to capture in words his impressions that makes the book special. There is humor, often ironical in tone.
The people he meets, I think, have to make you chuckle……but maybe not! He expresses his views, many of which I share. Maybe, if you do not share his views--on literature, on art, on politics, on colonialism, on race, on gender issues—then maybe the book is not going to say much to you as it did to me.
You may then see Theroux as simply a cranky, whiny American traveler. On this journey he hops on the subway commuter train from his home in Massachusetts, along with all the others going off to work. Theroux, he is off to Esquel, Patagonia, Argentina. He will be traveling by train, pretty much all the way, that being the whole idea of the trip, to travel from northern North America to southern South America on one long continuous train trip.
Small sections are done by boat, bus and air, when the train was out of the question. Still we have half a dozen mutual acquaintances, and every year somebody asks me if I know Theroux. They always seem puzzled when I say we have never met. Once upon a time I wanted to meet him, but not now. Age makes a person reclusive, and familiarity with books becomes safer and more appealing than familiarity with people.
Moreover, meeting Theroux would make me wistfully imagine a life that I did not lead and could never have led. Theroux has written twice as many books as I have, and he has lived as I dreamed of living when I was a boy. In The Prelude Wordsworth recounts that he grew up nurtured by beauty and by fear.