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Old Patagonian Express (86640) Audio, Cassette – December, 1986
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|Audio, Cassette, December, 1986||
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About the Author
Paul Theroux has written many works of fiction and travel writing, including the modern classics The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, My Secret History and The Mosquito Coast. Paul Theroux divides his time between Cape Cod and the Hawaiian islands. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
American novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux takes us on a fascinating journey through the Americas by rail. To the long tradition of such fare, he contributes considerable descriptive power, strong characterizations, humor and informed humanity--all of which William Hootkins communicates in an expressive, listener-friendly voice. There is much to interest anyone who wishes to glean insights from a keen mind and stout heart. Y.R. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Part of the charm of the book are the quick, sharp sketches of people Theroux meets on the way (not usually favorable) and the musings on the essence of the land he is traversing--its geography, its mood as well as the general condition of the local economy. Central America is phenomenally empoverished, down to the Stone Age level of heaps of huts and a few stray animals. His unvarnished view of the pitiable condition of these lands and their people gives you a better feeling for what life is like outside a developed nation, even Mexico, whose slums are posh compared to Nicaragua or Guatemala.
South America is not well known by Americans--did you know there is a Welsh settlement in Patagonia? It's amazing to take this train trip even with such a grouchy companion as Theroux. He's a marvelous writer and like all good journal writers, doesn't spare anything, even if it makes himself look less noble.
I read this before I ever traveled to Chile and then after and it really adds a lot of insight.
This one in particular fed into my wish to " someday" travel. I was a poor student who thought travel was only for the rich. I didn't realize you could do it cheaply - if you don't mind a few discomforts. It gave the information I needed to take journeys that expanded my world view.
The book reads like a diary of his travel from Boston to Tierra del Fuego, most of the time by train. Along the way he meets both ordinary & famous people - most of whom he dislikes. At the beginning of his train trip he meets a self-centered young woman who gives him a rundown of her dietary needs and "sensitivities." She is a the first of many people who will annoy and confound him. He also manages to meet luminaries like Jorge Luis Borges. Even Borges doesn't distract him from train" schedules", breakdowns, people, and misunderstanding that - he thinks - exist only to thwart his enjoyment. He hates everyone and everything but manages to describe it all in hilarious prose.
I know many people dislike his grouchy persona - they wonder why he even travels. Give him a break - he is like one of those old - fashioned uncles (at least in literature) who fill your head with wonderful images of far away places while complaining about the most trivial problems. You know he's finicky, so all you take in is the wonder of discovering new places.
I will always love this book and Mr. Theroux for leading me out of small, Midwestern-town-USA. How else would I have found myself hitching a ride to Otoval market (ECUADOR) on top of a precarious truck carrying vegetables & chickens? Two Japanese sisters made the trip even more fun as we screamed & laughed all the way. A trip of a lifetime on a shoe string budget. Luckily I was young enough to ignore discomfort so that I could enjoy new vistas and people.
I will always keep my worn copy of this book. I give it 5 stars for inspiration, hilarity, and practical advice.