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.
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