To the Ends of the Earth

PDF EBook by Paul Theroux

EBook Description

I had experienced Theroux the novelist, but I figured it's about time I stopped resisting Theroux the travel writer. To the Ends of the Earth PDF EBookThis book contains large sections of 6 books of railway journeys around the globe.I concentrated on the parts from "The Great Railway Bazaar", "The Old Patagonian Express", and "Riding the Iron Rooster".

He doesn't spend any time oohing and ahing over artistic or geographical splendors or waste much effort on wonderful food and architecture.Nor does he really try to capture a country and it society in depth, marshaling lots of background material.Instead, he does well being an "every man" in rendering an open look at what he experiences, without using his platform as narrator to force some wisdom or humorous diversion.His strength is in his well crafted vignettes of the strange and interesting people he met in his travels.These characters stick in the mind as representatives of the infinite variety in people and personality, almost independent of culture. There is some wry humor, often with himself as the butt of the tale.

He unfortunately tends toward overgeneralizing certain people and runs the risk of negative stereotyping.For example, in his sketch of Mr. Chatterjee in Calcutta:
He was a Bengali, and Bengalis were the most alert people I had met in India.They were also irritable, talkative, dogmatic, arrogant, and humorless, holding forth with malicious skill on virtually every subject except the future of Calcutta.

And in Guatemala City, he propounds:
The Guatemalans, sullen at the best of times, display a scolded resignation—bordering at times on guiltiness—when the subject of earthqukes is raised.

Yet he does reflect on the vagaries of casual characterization of a people when he beholds the worldly city of Buenos Aires:
In the immigrant free- PDFfor-all in Buenos Aires, in which a full third of Argentina's population lives, I looked in vain for what I considered to be seizable South American characteristics.I had become used to the burial ground features of ruined cities,the beggrs' culture, the hacienda economy, and complacent and well- heeled families disenranchising Indians, government by nepotism, the pig on the railway platform.The primary colors of such crudities had made my eye unsuble and had spoiled my sense of discrimination.

I most enjoyed therespite from travel in the home of Borges, blind and nearly 80.His mind is electric, bouncing from subject to subject, and very strong in his likes and dislikes in literature and societies (e.g. he favors the English and Spanish and disparages Mexicans and Canadians).He has Theroux read to him from Kipling and Poe.Theroux asks him: "Do you ever reread your own work?""Never, I am not happy with my work.The critics have greatly exaggered its importance.I would rather read"—he lunged at his bookshelves and made a gathering motion with his hands—"real writers.Ha!"

In the end, I wasn't enthalled, only moderately satisfied.I got spoiled by Bryson's "In a Sunburned Country": chock full of enlightening facts, uplifting experiences with people, and outrageously funny to boot.To be fair, Theroux doesn't really intend to render something deep or entertaining about the societies he passes through, but is using the stimulus of novel experiences while disconneted from his mundane life to construct reflective essays. Like this book? Read online this: Who Built America? Working People and the Nation's Economy, Politics, Culture, and Society, Vol. 2, The Green Hills of Earth / The Menace from Earth.

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