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Theroux: Collected Stories Hardcover – July 1, 1997

6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

As one might expect from the cosmopolitan and prolific Theroux (Kowloon Tong, LJ 3/1/97) the 60-some short stories here take place all over the globe, from Boston to Moscow, north to south, and take in all classes of characters and protagonists. Also, as one would expect from one of the very best travel writers, sense of place is evoked beautifully. A sense of "other-ness" pervades many stories, an attempt by characters to find and define themselves in alien situations. But truly, the range is colossal: some stories are wry, ironic, and distanced, some dead-on with reality, a few academic stories stand up very well, and Theroux's wit and elegant style shine throughout. This book, in fact, defies short-format review, but, fortunately, needs only notice. Highly recommended.
-?Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Theroux is nothing if not prolific. His travel books are some of the world's most popular, while his novels, including most recently Kowloon Tong , both please and provoke. And all the time he's been working on his 20-odd books, Theroux has been writing short stories, high-strung tales of intriguing psychological and cultural complexity that reflect his long sojourn in England and his extensive wanderings. This substantial collection of more than 60 compelling stories spans 25 years and represents, as Theroux confides in his edgy introduction, the essence of his "imaginative task as a writer." His stories are also, he declares, "better than me," a poignant conviction rooted in his perpetual loneliness, the force that propelled him to the many locales he so deftly conjures. Theroux's own preference for places where his work as a writer matters little in comparison to his skills as a traveler, hiker, or kayaker is echoed in the psyches of his characters, many of whom feel trapped in their lives, especially their marriages. As Theroux spins tales set in Africa, Boston, China, Corsica, England, India, Patagonia, and Prague, he examines differences in place and perspective, but finds, beneath it all, the same emotional skeleton, the same sense of alienation and melancholia. As flinty as the predicaments he renders are, they manage, under the right conditions, to give off sparks of bright humor and flares of love. Donna Seaman

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1st American ed edition (July 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670861278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670861279
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,604,638 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Theroux's highly acclaimed novels include Blinding Light, Hotel Honolulu, My Other Life, Kowloon Tong, and The Mosquito Coast. His renowned travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Dark Star Safari, Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, and The Happy Isles of Oceania. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
Paul Theroux is the kind of writer who is not afraid to go out on a limb. His literary output over the last twenty-five years or so is as diverse and inspired as any other American writer working today. And I'm pleased to say that in this handsome paperback re-issue he seldom disappoints. Take, for example, the almost hallucinogenic vigor of "Dengue Fever". I challenge anyone to read this story once through in a quiet setting and not be haunted by its shadowy, sinuous images a week, a month, or even a year after the initial experience. It is Theroux's turgid depictions of fever, deftly mixed with the not implausible elements of the supernatural, that make this tale a breath-taking excursion into the horrific realm of the subconscious.
Then there is the creepy, nocturnal brilliance of "World's End," in which the narrator of the story becomes the not so subtle victim of his own vanity. The suspense never lets up while steadily building toward a sat! isfying, even shocking ending. Is his wife having an affair while the narrator smugly entertains yet another road trip? The narrator's son, shrewd and tight-lipped, is a wonderfully nuanced portrait of silent anguish and controlled fear, while the timorous image of a kite and the ironic metaphor of "play" are cleverly juxtaposed by Theroux who knows well the value of a ripe Joycean symbol.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bryon Butler on July 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I picked up The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux years ago, and it was the first book I read by which I judged the movie by the book. Through the years came other books, most notably The Old Patagonian Express, which ends where I live, in Argentina. The discussion of Theroux's time with the indomitable Jorge Borges alone was worth the price of the book. When I recently saw Collected Stories at the yearly Buenos Aires Book Fair I quickly picked it up, happily returning to all things Theroux for awhile.
Collected Stories takes us from Malaysia, to Africa, to London, and gives glimpses, almost photo like, of the lives of people Theroux knew, or invented, along the way. So convincing were his embassy stories that I looked up his biography online to see if he actually worked in one. Theroux is often the narrator of his tales, starts strong with a number of good first lines, and to me writes convincingly when his character is a woman. Although the stories vary in quality, the collection shows a master storyteller. The book contains many, many stories, yet for me a general theme stands out.
As I read the book, I began noting the different topics discussed. Theroux deals with affairs, a drinking problem, murder, deceitful friendships, leaving a spouse, deception, a loss of hope, and a resignation of what life has become for the characters. Though not every story was a downer, a human resignation, an inability to resolve life's problems, resonated throughout the book, and I found myself hoping for something nice to somebody. As well, Theroux has the ability to make interesting the lives of characters whose international lives are really not that interesting. While reading the story The Exile, I came across " ...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
My schedule doesn't permit a lot of free time for reading so I randomly picked up Theroux's collected stories from the local library and I must say that the storylines are intriguing and the characters are so believable, you may very well find yourself empathizing with them.
This is a fantastic collection of stories if you have a long commute and need a break from the rubbish on the airwaves.
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