Paul Theroux Essays

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There's a certain synchronicity in writing travel pieces and also living my life as a novelist and a travel writer." This is disheartening.

You'd expect—perhaps even hope—that there'd be a significant decline in quality in these occasional pieces, written over the years for publications as varied as .

He writes of meeting Gerard d'Aboville, who rowed across the Pacific Ocean alone in a small boat in 1993.

He kayaks in the Philippines and visits Hong Kong on the eve of the hand-over to China.

"In terms of selection, I take paperbacks that I happen to be reading at the time and ones that I have intended to read," Theroux says.

"I'm an omnivorous reader, and if you read a lot, you always have a kind of reading program going, a sort of private scholarship. And I'm very interested in writers's lives -- what they're doing at particular stages of their lives, what they're writing.

Later, in the book's title essay, he explains his need for solitary exercise—bicycling, kayaking, sailing—to assuage "the loneliness of the long-distance writer." He spends a solitary week in the Maine woods in wintertime.

He travels down the Zambezi River, and down the Yangtze.

“I hate music,” he said to me, and he laughed, adding, “I told a man that once and he burst into tears.”He took to me for a simple reason. Great writers then, and now, seem powerful and shamanistic to me: at their best, enchanters. For “The Mimic Men,” he looked into the Bible, and, one day, he tapped it with his finger and said, “It’s not bad, you know,” and laughed, because he’d found a passage of Scripture that moved him.

When it was announced that Naipaul was coming to Kampala, I bought what books of his were available and borrowed the rest from the library. It’s not much of a compliment.” He read Thomas Mann and R. I was twenty-five years old, and at that point had been in Uganda for almost four years.


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