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Starting with a rush-hour subway ride to South Station in Boston to catch Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited to Chicago, Theroux takes readers on a train journey from New England to Patagonia in southernmost Argentina.
Posted February 4, 2008
Theroux takes trains almost the entire distance from Boston to Argentina. The OPE chronicles this grueling, difficult journey. I have traveled to a few countries in Latin America before. Theroux exquisitely captures the essence of the continent. He successfully juxtaposes the majestic with the squalor. Theroux brilliantly weaves in descriptions of colorful, memorable characters. For example, the rambling Mr. Thornberry, or the American diplomat, Dudley Symes. This book is memorable with interesting and timeless descriptions, that stick with you forever. I loved the part about Bogota being a 'cruel and towering place, a place once inhabited by eagles, but now populated by vultures and their dying prey.' Or parts of Latin America being governed by an 'anarchy of sex and hunger.' He captures vivid events in time. The soccer game in El Salvador which he compares to a 'classic vision of hell' with 'infernal' imagery. He describes his disappointment with his inability to enter Somoza's Nicaragua. He had heard that Nicaragua was 'savagely governed,' with a 'murderous landscape.' But he was denied to observe it for himself. At times Theroux can go overboard with the language, like some other authors, leaving an impression of 'enough already.' However Theroux's literary gifts are outstanding and undeniable. I believe Paul Theroux is one of America's most overlooked gifted authors, casting the everyday in a fresh, fun, new way.
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Posted July 10, 2009
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