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The Mosquito Coast

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  6,239 ratings  ·  444 reviews

In a breathtaking adventure story, the paranoid and brilliant inventor Allie Fox takes his family to live in the Honduran jungle, determined to build a civilization better than the one they've left. Fleeing from an America he sees as mired in materialism and conformity, he hopes to rediscover a purer life. But his utopian experiment takes a dark turn when his obsessions le

Hardcover, 374 pages
Published January 1st 1982 by Houghton Mifflin (first published 1981)
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I do research in spoken language technology, building software that people can talk to. Right now, our main project is an app that lets beginning language students practice their speaking skills; if you're interested, you can find out more here. We have been working on it for about three and half years, and so far we don't really know if it's a good idea or not. We get mixed messages from the people who have tried it out. Some of them are enthusiastic and say it's really improved their French or ...more
Paul Theroux understands fathers and sons like few authors I have read, but I still struggle with Allie Fox's descent into madness. Part of me feels that we are supposed to struggle with his descent, to feel pity and empathy for him, but part of me feels that I am expected to feel anger and hate towards him -- things I do not and can not.

Whether this is the failure of the author or the reader is beyond me, but it is enough to drop this book out of my true favorites (and it was one of my favouri

Hell is - the other people .

But really ?
When everything’s going wrong one may like Zorba tell “that’s nothing to worry about “ or like Scarlett “I’ll think of it tomorrow “ or jack everything in and set off to look for promise land. And so Allie does .

Allie Fox , handyman and gifted inventor , disappointed with America, disgusted with consumer ,corporate or whatsoever lifestyle , out of the blue , packs his family and set off to Honduran jungle .

But let’s not be mislead by this idyllic picture.
Clif Hostetler
This is a popular book from the early 1980's that I never got around to reading until now. It's the first book by Paul Theroux that I've read. It's my understanding that he first became famous for his travelogue "The Great Railway Bazaar (1975)." He's written a number of novels since and most (maybe all) are fictionalized travelogues by having their characters end up in some exotic and isolated corner of the world. That's certainly the case with this book.

This story evolves around a man who is
Patrick Gibson
It’s not the craziness and hypocrisy of American evangelical Christians and other nuts building utopias, or realizing their personal dreams among the ignorant and poor peoples of the under-developed world, but writing descriptions of rare sights:

"It sank [an outboard engine:] into the weeds and began bleeding rainbows."

of nature:

"The howler monkeys were drumming in the thunder rumble across the black lagoon, and the rains boom and crackle made a deep cave of the earth and filled the sky with
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Allie Fox is a genius, a fool, a loving father, a madman, a dreamer, and a selfish SOB. He is sort of Don Quixote's evil twin. Both Don Quixote and Allie Fox pursued noble dreams but Quizote didn't imperil his entire family in doing so. But it isn't just the character of Allie Fox that makes The Mosquito Coast such a riveting and brilliant novel. It is the interaction with his his family as they struggle to understand this brilliant but insane man. The book reads like an adventure; an adventure ...more
Although I agree with some of the views of the protagonist's father, I find the character so obnoxious that I don't even know if I can read any more.
Lyn Fuchs
Setting off on a big international trip, I asked an eighty-year-old man with the reputation of being a wise counselor for his input on my destination options. I was obsessing over this decision. He responded, "The place doesn't matter, because wherever you go, there you'll be." He was hinting at the annoying truth that my character, not places or circumstances, was hindering my spiritual journey. He was absolutely right.

Paul Theroux wrote a classic book on heading for parts remote with spiritual
Christine Boyer
Okay, I'm quitting. So keep that in mind with regard to my 1 star rating. I got half way through and this was the last section I read: "Then the darkness, which was like fathoms of ink, softened, became finely gray, and, without revealing anything more of the sea, turned to powder. All around us the powdery dawn thickened, until, growing coarser and ashy, in a sunrise without sun, it threw us glimpses of the soapy sea and the shoreline and the jungle heaped like black rags of kelp." OMG! I can't ...more
Funny, funny book.

Well, that was my review the first time I read it. Now, after a reread some 20 years later, I wonder why I didn't pick up on what was really going on with the father. This time it was clear to me, and gave the book, despite its comedic moments, a sense of ever-increasing dread.

Re-reading . . . how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love the guaranteed happiness (how often does one get that?); I love meeting old friends and familiar enemies; and oh, how I love the anticipation of coloring in the faintly remembered.

Truly-addicted readers have books to which they repeatedly return; we become so entranced by an author’s words we even hope (in bouts of the truest example of suspension of disbelief) that perhaps this time, if we read very slowly, or very carefully, o
Everyone calls this an adventure book. I guess I never thought to classify mental illness and the abuse of a family as 'adventure.' A man leaves the United States on his belief that it is all unraveling around him and that the only way to save himself and his family is to lead them into isolation in the Honduran rainforest. He is an inventor and a genius but the only thing unraveling is his mind. I was more than halfway through this book before anything 'happened.' Until that point, the story wa ...more
I hate Paul Theroux with a passion. I had to read this 'book' for year 11 and it was so painful that instead of reading the last quarter of the book I borrowed the Harrison Ford movie and wrote my essay based on the movie.....I guess they both ended the same because I got a good mark for my essay.

I don't know whether it was the characters that I hated or just the whole storyline, but all I know was that I was glad when his boat house sank...?? Did it sink?? Or did the son shoot the father or am
You know a book is really good when it makes you mad. Anger is one of the strongest emotions. The fury I felt at an imagined character has tickled something I need to explore. The antagonist of this novel, Allie Fox, or Father, as he is most commonly referred, is quite the inventor. As a strong patriarch, Father has a larger than life presence over everyone; his family most notably. Charlie, his eldest son, the protagonist, first reveres then comes to despise him. After being bullied and drug th ...more
The only Paul Theroux I had read before was a non-fiction travel diary called The Happy Isles of Oceania. I was surprised to open this and find it was fiction. And very strange fiction.

This is a story of a brilliant but mentally ill man. He has a genius for mechanics and invention, but he is sure that the United States has become a destroyed society destined for war. He states a lot of current political truths and feelings but magnified into a paranoia that results in him taking his family (wife
There can be no argument that this book is not brilliantly contrived and written. Theroux creates a vast range of characters, with each ones own depth being interlinked and interchangable with that of Allie, the father and centre of this novel. The novel is portrayed through the eye's of the eldest son, Charlie and shows his relationship with his father moving from awe inspiring to hatred and fear. I think that the surroundings in which this book is set where imaginatively woven and really broug ...more
Peter Wolfley
Excellent book about the dangers of monomania and pride. Allie Fox is basically Captain Ahab reborn as an inventor with a real bone to pick with American society and culture. This was an incredibly engaging book and would be a good read for both those looking to think and those looking to be entertained.

I always tell my wife that I want to sell everything and move to Australia, raise sheep, and live the simple life. This novel made me reconsider my dream. In America we love to romanticize the s
(read date is a BIG guess--which most of my "read" dates are, so take them with a grain of salt; I am a CRS sufferer)
When I read this book many years ago, I was convinced Theroux was the new great writer. His use of symbolism and foreshadowing is marvelously well-done: smooth, simply a part of the story-telling until one stops to examine it. His story-telling is superb, his characterization beautifully (and at times painfully) real, and his message timely even today. Though I have read nothing e
Although The Mosquito Coast is fictional, written from the perspective of 13-year-old Charlie Fox, it has the feel of a memoir of a terrible childhood, along the lines of The Glass Castle. Charlie's matter-of-fact telling of the hardships he and his family face is interspersed with vivid descriptions of their surroundings and, for lack of a better term, adventures.

While Charlie's father, Allie, is proud of the fact that he has never spanked his children or struck them in anger, he bullies the e
“The Mosquito Coast” will go on my to-buy list, but definitely not because it was a feel-good story that gave me hope. It is a fascinating tale about a schizophrenic man who leaves the horrors of civilization and materialism by taking his family to live in the primitive jungles of Honduras. In the beginning, I loved Allie Fox. He is an inventor, a genius, and his ideals are much aligned with mine. At times I myself wish I could carry my family off to where they would be self-sufficient and compl ...more
Oct 27, 2008 Chris rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: survivalists preaching the goodness of getting back to nature
Recommended to Chris by: Harrison Ford's milk man's niece-in-law
"The Mosquito Coast" is a far from engaging tale of some madman thinking he knows what's best for his family. The story is far-fetched. The premise gets tiring, and nothing about all of it is particularly inspiring or educational.

My biggest gripe with this book is that I never felt any connection to the main characters. They were one-dimensional and completely non-descript except for possibly the father. By the time I finally formed an opinion about one of them though, I was trudging my way thro
I always have the same reaction to Paul Theroux; I'm impressed with his artistry, but the world-view he presents (at least in his fiction -- I haven't read any of his travel writing) is so bleak that I'm left feeling fairly depressed. The Mosquito Coast was no different in this regard.

Allie Fox is best described as a cult leader, but his followers are merely his wife and his four children. The story is narrated by Charlie, who at 14 is his oldest child, and begins with the family living on an a
Shawn Davis
Allie Fox - Father - thinks America is focused on the wrong things and on the verge of annihilation. With no explanation to his family he moves them to Honduras.

Not that anyone in his family knows where they are going - Father makes them leave everything in their snug house and puts them on a boat where they find out their destination from the other passengers.

Father doesn't believe in school education. Father thinks the best place for his family is in the middle of nowhere, building their own s
In the beginning, I was over the moon about this book. It was so intriguing, so well written, the characters were unique (well, the narrator and his father, anyway), and the story seemed to have so much promise. As I read on, I noticed some humor creeping in, which I resisted, because I wanted this to be straight realism, but things got slightly and slightly more Elkinsy, and still I resisted but still I was enjoying things. Then, maybe around page 60 or so, something seemed to shift, and I coul ...more
Theophilus (Theo)
A story of a survivalist who takes his family from the United States to escape the mad traffic, out of control commercialism, and crime of the city near their home on a farm. Stuff that we normally throw away the lead character finds and uses to create, what he thinks will be a secluded paradise for himself and his family in Honduras. What does he find there? A zealous missionary and his family living right up the river who plays taped sermons for his converts among the natives. When our hero de ...more
This book is great! One of my all-time favorites. Maybe partly because I can identify and understand so much of the main character (the Father/Allie), as well as the situations the family is in while in Honduras, still a developing country. But the vivid psychological portrait painted of the main character as well as his dissolution and the destruction he threatens to bring to his whole family - incredible! It certainly helps that I read most of it while in a thatched-roof hut of my own. I'll be ...more
Allie Fox not only thinks he is right, he thinks everyone else is wrong. In fact, every person and thing is so wrong, he can see nothing good in New England, and everything right about the life he creates for his family on the "Mosquito Coast". His psyche is so defended against being wrong, he cannot see what he is doing to his wife and small children as they become fully jeopardized by the privations he has exposed them to.

Theroux succeeds because he touches familiar chords. Allie Fox's attitud
I really, really wanted to like this book since I have a lot in common with the subject (i.e., I picked my family up and moved them to a foreign location, although not in such dramatic fashion). But at the end of the day, I just couldn't get emotionally invested in it and I think the reason is that in the book, everyone gets pretty much what they deserve. There is no sense of real injustice, no undeserved obstacles to overcome. The dad's nuts and crazy and gets what he deserves in the end. The m ...more
Anna Batstone
Much of this story is set in a harsh jungle environment. Loved this book, about a father's determination, how in a family the children can be given and accept roles of but minor characters, and where this kind of daddy-dictatorship can lead - good and bad. The read is slow to get going then has a lovely steady pace and an acceptable ending.
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Paul Edward Theroux is an American travel writer and novelist, whose best known work is The Great Railway Bazaar (1975), a travelogue about a trip he made by train from Great Britain through Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, through South Asia, then South-East Asia, up through East Asia, as far east as Japan, and then back across Russia to his point of origin. Although perhaps best know ...more
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The Great Railway Bazaar Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town Riding the Iron Rooster The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas Ghost Train to the Eastern Star

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“I guessed it was a migratory bird, too innocent to be wary of the spiders in the jungle grass. It worried be to think that we were a little like that bird” 2 likes
“He used the word savages with affection, as if he liked them a little for it. In his nature was a respect for wildness. He saw it as a personal challenge, something that could be put right with an idea or a machine. He felt he had the answer to most problems, if anyone cared to listen.” 0 likes
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