The Kingdom by the Sea – Paul Theroux

I found Paul Theroux’s account of his travels along the British coastline rather bit hard going. His achievement is undeniable, all the more so as I suspect to repeat his travels 20 or so years later would be a lot harder – in several chapters you’re made very aware that even in the early 80s the days of the coast-serving branch lines of Great Britain were numbered and by now many of them will have passed. And it was interesting to read an American (an anglo-friendly one)’s account of British attitudes to the Falklands War as those events unfolded in the North and South Atlantic.

So what didn’t I enjoy? I think it was the flip side of that sense of reading history – knowing that the people and places, the attitudes and environment that Paul Theroux talks about no longer exist, at least not as he describes them. And looking back to 1982 really does feel like reading history, and I was keenly aware of how little of it matched with my own memories as a 12 year growing up in the Birmingham suburbs, about as far from the sea as it’s possible to be. link: The Kingdom by the Sea – Paul Theroux

Fresh-Air Fiend – Paul Theroux

Pot Luck Paul Theroux

Louis’ dad isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but this collection gives you a taster of Paul Theroux’s travel writings from the years running up to Y2K.

Snapshots of the lives and lifestyles of people from all around the world, not only of the individuals Theroux encounters but also of the writer, his family and friends, including Bruce Chatwin.

With stories of sailing off Cape Cod, luxury cruising down the Yangtze a mere 4 years after the end of the Cultural Revolution, and surf-kayaking off Hawai’i’s North Shore, there’s a definite bias towards water-borne exploration.

Whether you are seeking inspiration for holiday destinations or, like me, feel the occasional need to relive travels of your own (or to undertake fresh ones, albeit on a vicarious basis), ‘Fresh-Air Fiend’ fits the bill.