Our greatest living travel writer does it again.
I think this may be Paul Theroux’s best travel book in years. It’s more considered and introspective than some of his previous (all thoroughly excellent) books. Perhaps because it’s based on repeated journeys through the same places over the course of four seasons, rather than a journey through a place wth an end goal in mind.
“A travel book is usually based on a journey on which the traveler confronts places for the first time, describes them vividly, then moves on and never goes back. This portrait of the place, the way it looked that hour, that day, or that week, in that weather, is the one that is clapped between covers for its peculiarity to be given permanent form.”
Here we see Theroux repeatedly engaging with a place and with people. Adding a layer here or there. Picking up the same conversation several months later. And tracking the changes he sees over time.
I admire Theroux’s writing because it’s so incisive. He has a gift for dialogue, and an eye for that perfect detail or phrase which reveals so much about a place or a person. I’ve read everything he’s published, and he’s long been a source of inspiration for me as both a traveler and a writer.
I also enjoyed the insights he shared on Southern literature. In fact, I love how he brings his broader reading and the thoughts of the literary greats into his day to day life, and into this book. He strikes me as the sort of guy I’d love to sit down for a drink with to talk about our favourite writers.
Reading Deep South also brought back so many memories of my childhood in small town Ontario. We never had the poverty or racial discrimination of the South, nothing like that. But I did experience some of the openness and kindness that Theroux finds in small southern towns. The nature, the farms, the river (in my case the St. Lawrence rather than the Mississippi), good neighbours, country fairs, and the joys of simple home cooking.
Theroux brought so much of that back for me. And as an expat and nonstop traveler, he encouraged me to reevaluate the place I came from, and to get curious about my roots again.
This is a well written, insightful book which will reveal new worlds in a place that you may have prejudged, and that you probably didn’t know much about.
Pick up YOUR COPY on Amazon today.