STARRED REVIEW
May 2018

Looking back on a life spent in transit

By Paul Theroux
Review by

From The Great Railway Bazaar (1975) to The Tao of Travel (2011), Paul Theroux has taught us how to travel: intently, adventurously and lightly.

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From The Great Railway Bazaar (1975) to The Tao of Travel (2011), Paul Theroux has taught us how to travel: intently, adventurously and lightly.

While the title may suggest a single painting, the 30 essays included here are alive with locales as varied as Theroux’s many journeys. He is a collector of experiences with the famous and infamous, the familiar and the exotic, the literati and the little guys. There’s a helicopter flight over Neverland Ranch with Elizabeth Taylor as she discusses her Peter Pan and Wendy-esque friendship with Michael Jackson. Walks with Robin Williams and Oliver Sacks reveal their inspiring humanity. A dominatrix explains everything. Hunter S. Thompson is remembered for his writing and demons, “familiar, because they are our demons, most of them anyway.”

Theroux gets around the globe as well, whether searching for a fabled drug high in Ecuador, residing in England for 18 years, rediscovering Vietnam or paddling around in Hawaii.

Having been everywhere and done almost everything, Theroux concludes Figures in a Landscape closer to home, examining his childhood and parents with the circumspection of a worldly-wise adult. Yet his insatiable curiosity continues, and he wonders what his own legacy should be. For Theroux, the idea of leaving no trace has never been an option.

 

This article was originally published in the May 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Figures in a Landscape

Figures in a Landscape

By Paul Theroux
HMH/Eamon Dolan
ISBN 9780544870307

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