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THE A5 BOOK REVIEW
Most of celebrated travel writer Paul Theroux’s previous travelogues have been dedicated to the exploration of faraway places, with long arduous trips to exotic destinations in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. In Deep South, he decides to explore an area closer to home, taking multiple road trips through often ignored areas in the rural South. Theroux's approach here allows him to leisurely meander through small towns in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Arkansas, where as always he focuses on everyday life and meeting local people. Unlike with earlier books, he returned to experience all four seasons, endeavoring to move past first impressions to better understand the rich nuances of Southern culture and the deep impact of the region’s troubled history on life today. Theroux went to diners, churches, concerts and gun shows, he met real people with an open mind, and he saw the devastating impact of real poverty and people with bleak prospects for the future. Racism is explored thoroughly. For those who want to better understand the South, we highly recommend this book.
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GREAT QUOTES FROM DEEP SOUTH
“One of the grandest creations of the New South was a mythical concept of an Old South.” What people take to be an epoch was a matter of mere decades of pretension and an exercise in irrational nostalgia.”
"Reflecting on the Crimson Tide (Alabama's football team), I ceased to think of it as football at all, except in a superficial way; it seemed much more like another Southern reaction to a feeling of defeat, with some of the half-buried emotion I'd noticed at gun shows. In a state that is so hard-pressed, with one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, with its history of racial conflict, and with so little to boast about but wishing to matter, it is natural that a winning team - a national champion - would attract people in need of meaning and self-esteem in their lives, and would become the basis of a classic in-group, The Tide was robust proof of social identity theory."
“We walk through ourselves,” Stephen Dedalus says in Ulysses, summing up the travel experience, “meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves.”
PAUL THEROUX ON THE BOOK, WITH PICO IYER