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THE A5 BOOK REVIEW
The Old Patagonian Express is a written account of a train trip taken by noted travel writer Paul Theroux from his home in chilly Massachusetts down to the most southern tip of Argentina. Many of Theroux’s books revolve around train travel, with descriptions of the places and the people he meets along the way, with writing that is brutally honest, poignant, and funny. His two months of travels take him across the border in Laredo, Texas into Mexico, through Guatemala to El Salvador. He flies to Costa Rica but then is back on the train, traveling through Columbia, over the Andes, and finishing in Patagonia. This is not a vacation; he battles with heat, cold, rats and roaches, altitude sickness, diarrhea, the violence of South American soccer, and loneliness. But there are victories too, with amazing scenery, some great introductions to local culture, and a very enjoyable outing in Buenos Aires with the poet Jorge Luis Borges. Those new to Theroux will probably want to start with The Great Railway Bazaar, but this is a great second choice, especially for those who want to know more about this part of the world.
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A FEW OTHER A5 RECOMMENDED TRAVEL BOOKS FROM PAUL THEROUX (click here for more)
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GREAT QUOTES FROM THE OLD PATAGONIAN EXPRESS
"Travel is a vanishing act, a solitary trip down a pinched line of geography to oblivion. But a travel book is the opposite, the loner bouncing back bigger than life to tell the story of his experiment with space. It is the simplest sort of narrative ,an explanation which is its own excuse for the gathering up and the going. It is motion given order by its repetition in words. That sort of disappearance is elemental, but few come back silent. And yet the convention is to telescope travel writing, to start - as so many novels do - in the middle of things, to beach the reader in a bizarre place without having first guided him here."
"I had read about Latin American soccer - the chaos, the riots, the passionately partisan crowds, the way political frustrations were ventilated at the stadiums. I knew for a fact that if one wished to understand the British it helped to see a soccer game; then, the British did not seem so tight-lipped and proper. Indeed, a British soccer game was an occasion for a form of gang warfare for the younger spectators. The muscular ritual of sport was always a clear demonstration of the wilder impulses in national character."