Blinding Light
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Blinding Light

2.9 of 5 stars 2.90  ·  rating details  ·  411 ratings  ·  58 reviews
From the New York Times best-selling author Paul Theroux, Blinding Light is a slyly satirical novel of manners and mind expansion. Slade Steadman, a writer who has lost his chops, sets out for the Ecuadorian jungle with his ex-girlfriend in search of inspiration and a rare hallucinogen. The drug, once found, heightens both his powers of perception and his libido, but it al...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published October 18th 2005 by McClelland & Stewart (first published 2005)
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Mo
Being a fan of his other works, I was eager to read this but it kind of made me want to crawl into an AA meeting wearing dark glasses and a large hat. I think P. Theroux needs to have more sex and actually take some drugs---this was the most lackluster and acrid fiction I've ever read about a subject that's usually pretty juicy. And his primary female character was just like a literary version of a blow up doll, only made from wood. Splinters are not nice.
Frank
I've liked Theroux's writing for years - both his travel writing and fiction. Unfortunately, I haven't been keeping up with him for some time. The last book I read by him was "Hotel Honolulu" which I remember being an okay novel. I was a little mixed about "Blinding Light." I loved the premise of the novel with the main character, Slade Steadman (a travel writer like Theroux) traveling to Ecuador in search of a drug to give him some enlightenment so he can write about the experience. He gets mor...more
carynn
Not so fabulous. Very overboard on the descriptions and the whole blind sightedness theme. i never like to read stories about authors writing books, like watching a chef write recipes. i just want to eat the cake dammit.

And also so much repetition, at one stage i seriously thought i was rereading a section, but allas. and it continued throughout the book. Over and over. just so much redudant repetition. And then again.

Only finished for the sake of it, but really shouldn't have, was no redeeming...more
Rowland Bismark
I like paul Theroux. His travel books have sustained and goaded me over the years. This novel has a bright premise and parts of it are very entertaining. But what is this lust for lust? Can it be impossible to sell a book without wide eyed orgasmic sexuality on every page? I'm not one to be prudish, on the contrary, I think sexuality drives the history of mankind, but, when it becomes ever more tantalizing, ever more over the top, ever more impossible to believe then it's just gone too far. This...more
Harry Roger Williams III
On December 1st I started reading Blinding Light, fascinated by the possibilities for a story about an author dealing with writer’s block and the remnants of 60’s consciousness issues. Ten days later, on a Saturday, I wrote that I had read much of the day’s Boston Globe, and a few more pages of Blinding Light. Three days after that, “I was thinking this morning of posting on GoodReads that I have read over 100 pages of Blinding Light, admire the author’s style and craft with words, yet feel very...more
Kallie
I could say that I am a Paul Theroux fan. He is one of the best contemporary novelists I know. However, this book taught me how boring sex can be in a novel, completing missing the magic that may (or may not) occur; is that the point he is trying to make about sexual bondage pleasure? Whatever point he is making about sex, I can only read so many descriptions of genital caresses before I lose interest. Why? Because descriptions of genitalia caresses are necessarily limited, however skillful. (Is...more
Snicketts
I didn't enjoy this book. Although I like Theroux's writing style and the cut glass quality of his descriptive passages, I found the overall work to be pretentious and self-serving. The characters were uniformly unlikable, and I think that was my biggest problem with the book - there wasn't a single character one could empathise with, let alone feel a sympathy for. I didn't mind the pace or the plot or the 'dirty' subject matter, just simply that I didn't see any justification for it, either cha...more
james
i did a little search here on goodreads just to see how many people read this book and what they rated it. i was surprised at how many people gave it only one star. i found it a complete page turner. defintely one i would have recommended. hmmmmm. very interesting. i really enjoyed it.
Jennifer
The main character is a writer whose only book, 20 years ago, was a smash hit spawning a line of travel-related merchandise. Now he's increasingly depressed that he hasn't been able to write a book since; and in an effort to re-ignite his career (perhaps with another "travel stunt" book like his first one), goes on a quest to sample a rare South American drug.

I actually wanted to see more of the assholish rich travelers who were fully outfitted with the protagonist's merchandise--they were supe...more
Jim Leckband
"Blinding Light" is about the best book that can come out of a self-absorbed writer's life. A novel about a well-known travel writer writing a novel can only be compared to the book's author, a well-known travel writer who writes novels. The mirrors facing each other can have blinding lights at times.

The other author who haunts "Blinding Light" is V.S. Naipaul, a one-time friend of Theroux's. Theroux wrote a coruscating book, Sir Vidia's Shadow: A Friendship Across Five Continents, which further...more
Bryan Kelly
Dec 28, 2007 Bryan Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes hallucinogens
This was a great surprise in terms of the quality of the writing and the scope of its ambition. I had carelessly under-valued Theroux and bought it hoping I suppose for a page turner or brief vacation from more serious stuff.
Blinding Light is a fairly savage travelogue that delights in upending the definition of the genre. Theroux cites William Burroughs, infers Aldous Huxley and Carlos Castenada and devotes a useful amount of energy to puncturing the glib fantasies of irretreivable yuppie dot...more
Oceana2602
The first of Theroux novels that I've read, and I'm not disappointed.

I love his travel books, and while I don't feel as enthusiastic about "Blinding Light", it is a good book.
It's a story about a writer in the pursuit of, well, writing. Becoming blind via a drug, he suddenly is able to write again, but his writing process takes on a strange, dreamlike quality. And then you wake up.

Erotic, intense, honest, maybe painfully so. I wouldn't know, I'm not a writer, but I guess writing about writing,...more
Misha
Library Journal: Slade Steadman's first book, an edgy travel memoir called Trespassing , showcased his daring world travels as he crossed borders while evading passport checkpoints. It catapulted him into cult status, spawning countless fans, a TV show, and even a line of travel gear. Twenty years later, Slade suffers writer's block as he continues struggling to write the follow-up. He is disheartened by those who say he's become a brand—that he needn't bother writing ever again. Finally, Slade...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Theroux's 26 books should eliminate him as the basis for Blinding Light's blocked protagonist Slade Steadman, yet critics still compare the protagonist and his creator. Theroux and Steadman do share an eye for withering details, an intellectual interest in the nature of sexuality, fame, and the act of creation, and perhaps a taste for self-absorbed prose. Reviewers describe the novel as a Faustian fable and an exploration of the limits of sensuality. Yet the San Francisco Chronicle sees "no over

...more
Alice
I am a major fan of Theroux's books, both travel and fiction, and I think I have read them all. I was disappointed in this one; though he is always worth reading for his intelligence and dry humor, I found this book to be too mean-spirited.
Greg
First Theroux book. It's divided into five or six sections and the first couple started promising and I was caught up in the story. Unfortunately, the middle 50 or 60 pages is an unending sex scene that, while still pretty well written, just seems gratuitous and stops advancing the story after the first 15 pages or so. After slogging through it, I had lost my taste for the characters and really just wanted to be done with it. I may give Theroux another chance on one of his travel books, though,...more
Duchess
Yeah, not too bad. Theroux has apparently written some 2 dozen novels, many of which take place in foreign lands and I'll be happy to read more. Apparently this wasn't even one of his better books, as people complained it was too "dirty". I guess his other writing really focus more on being submerged in an unfamiliar culture rather than sex and drugs from an unfamiliar culture.
An entertaining & colorful read nonetheless. But I guess if your looking for the usual Theroux book, look elsewhere....more
Amy
Paul Theroux's style reminds me of British authors I have enjoyed, and I have very much enjoyed other novels I have read of his. But this one, although it started strong, devolved into a meandering story about unlikeable characters and the progress of one. Someone pointed out that this book is a retelling of the Faust legend, and I can agree. However in the telling, I feel that Theroux lost focus and even interest.
Jake
This novel began with promise. The death of truly independent travel as experienced by a veteran adventure travel writer. Then there are two hundred pages in the middle of agonizing middle age male sexual fantasy. Sadly this author historically has difficulty portraying realistic female characters. His failure here is insulting. And the middle nonsense is really uninteresting - and sometimes disturbing - porn.
Beth Hartnett
I'll definitely have to try another Theroux book, perhaps a nonfiction...because this one just didn't do it for me. Great premise of a travel writer stuck after his first novel and seeking adventure to inspire the next, but not a big fan of his odd sexual explorations and the mix of power positioning. Odd link to Clinton's demise with Monica Lewinsky, too... I would not recommend this one.
Arvind
It seems that in general this book is one of the most disliked of his books to most people, definitely not to me though. His journeys into the amazon and then into his own mind mirror my experience of Ayahuasca but puts it into a self-analytical perspective which from the point of use and experimentation of psychedelics is quite engaging to read.
Jake
I thought that this book would have been a great long short story. Instead, Theroux rambles and repeats himself endlessly. The first one hundred fifty pages of this book could have been condensed into twenty. The book gets more interesting in the third quarter, but not enough to offset how needlessly long-winded it is in the beginning.
Cheryl
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy Hayes
A guy looking for a hallucinogenic drug in the Ecuadorian jungle also increases his libido with the unfortunate side effect that he goes blind now and again. Eh...everything has it's price. The author is well-known (Mosquito Coast) and well-regarded, but I found this hard to read, in spite of the subject matter.
Graham
Aging travel writer scores a years' worth of primo Ecuadorian hallucinogenic herbs and jump starts his life. As an old fan of Carlos Castaneda, I became blissfully absorbed in the story. So often we are limited not by circumstances, but by some sort of weird, self-induced stinginess of awareness.
Chrissie
why oh why can't we give half star reviews. this was a 3.5. but i round up. because i'm that kind of generous.

i really liked the first part of this book. towards the second half it started to get both predictable and weird. everything that happened that wasn't predictable was downright weird.
Kate
I am a huge fan of Theroux's books, but I was disappointed with this. In fact, I didn't get through all of it. It was pretentious to the point that I couldn't take it anymore. I would recommend reading "The Mosquito Coast" or "Hotel Honalulu" if you want a good reading experience.
Lemar
Terrific writing. I got bogged down in the lengthy sexual descriptions but was fascinated by his plot device of using the psychedelic power of ayahuasca experience and the differing wisdom of the ancient cultures of Central America and the adolescent culture of North America.
Joel
The perfect example of a novel in need of a good editor. There's plenty to enjoy here, but getting to it is a slog, as Theroux repeats the same points over and over and over. Frankly, it reads like the product of a senile mind.
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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
More about Paul Theroux...
The Great Railway Bazaar Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town The Mosquito Coast Riding the Iron Rooster The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas

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