December 1, 2012
November 15, 2012
November 1, 2012
October 15, 2012
October 1, 2012
September 15, 2012
September 1, 2012
August 15, 2012
August 1, 2012
View more »
July 15, 2012
July 1, 2012
American Way Staff
American AirlinesNexos Magazine Staff
Celebrated Living Staff
Famed travel writer Paul Theroux examines the effect that the passing of 30 years has had on Eurasia -- and on himself. By Kristin Baird Rattini
“THE DECISION TO RETURN TO ANY EARLY SCENE in your life is dangerous but irresistible,” writes celebrated travel writer Paul Theroux in his newest book, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star (Houghton Mifflin, $28). In 1973, Theroux chronicled his epic rail journey through Asia in the best-selling travelogue The Railway Bazaar.Half a lifetime later, his curiosity about how those lands had changedover time compelled him to return to the rails and retrace his Eurasiansteps, a trip he documented in Ghost Train.
The story of Theroux’s four-month, 28,000-mile trek from London to Japan takes a few new twists this time. Rather than barhop till dawn, Theroux, now 67, opts to tour gardens and turn in early. He also alters his path slightly to avoid some of the countries experiencing political unrest.
Despite the changes in route, Theroux’s goal is the same: to capture the spirit of each place through the people he encounters. He does so masterfully, whether he’s introducing us to awealthy prince in Jodhpur, India, or to a poor pedicab driverstruggling for survival in Myanmar. “I wasn’t chasing a news story, soI could get acquainted with people in a much simpler way,” he says, now comfortably back at his home in Hawaii. “It’s a truer picture of aplace than if you were there during a crisis.”
Along the way,Theroux finds that he feels a greater affinity for the places that haven’t changed much since his previous visit than for those that have. In fact, “India’s miracle” of Bangalore, a major technology hub, and the modern marvel of Singapore not only fail to impress Theroux but also raise the ire for which he’s known. “The poorer a country, the more it preserves what it has,” he says. “They mend the sights; they don’t mow and tear them down.”
Yet by journey’s end, Theroux realizes the greatest changes haven’t occurred in the landscape or in the culture, but in himself. “I had more patience,” he says of his demeanor on his return trip. “If someone said, ‘There won’t be a train for a week,’ that was okay. Or if they said, ‘I have a long story totell you,’ I’d say, ‘Fine. Put up your feet and tell me the story.’ ”In Ghost Train, Theroux takes time to tell us his own story, and the tale is an irresistible one.
The Inside Track
Which locales would top Paul Theroux’s edition of Places to See before You Die? The veteran traveler shares his favorite picks. -- K.B.R.
ITALY:“Italy is, to me, a treasure house. I find the people congenial. I lovethe food. Although it’s not a large country, it’s packed with things tosee.”
INDIA:“There’s classical India: Rajasthan, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur … Thepeople are very traditional in their food, their dress, their beliefs.So just to see the adoring nature of the Indian culture is quitedifferent from the ‘Indian miracle.’ ”
HANOI, VIETNAM:“Hanoi is one of the most beautiful cities in Asia. [America] bombed itquite heavily during the war, but it has been rebuilt. So we have apersonal interest. … To see it being rebuilt is a wonderful thing.”
We Can’t Put Down The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer
AS A BEST-SELLING AUTHOR of graphic novels (Identity Crisis) and popcorn thrillers (The Book of Fate),Brad Meltzer knows a thing or two about superheroes and crackerjackmysteries. He’s a master practitioner on both fronts. Still, nothingprepares readers for Meltzer’s
The Book of Lies (Grand Central Publishing, $26), a whip-smart valentine to comic-book
culture, a heartfelt father-son saga, a meditation on the power of storytelling, and the
best darned code-cracking-on-the-run book we’ve read.
The turbocharged narrative, which finds an orphaned and disgraced government
agent thrust into an epic but deeply personal quest to find the world’s first murder
weapon, links -- wait for it -- Cain (as in, and Abel), the world’s first villain,
and Superman, the world’s greatest superhero. Meltzer’s writing is brisk,
witty, and full of more corkscrews than a wine-tasting seminar. If Dan Brown
and Michael Chabon were to collaborate, they’d still have nothing on Meltzer’s
dazzling Lies. -- J.R.