Shahina's Reviews > The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas

The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux
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Nov 16, 10

bookshelves: travel
Read in March, 2005

From my old blog .... <It’s a very old book again, first published around 1979, the journey itself undertaken by Theroux in his late thirties – he sounds much older though!
The idea behind the journey - trace a route by train from Boston to the end of where he could go down South.
Next, the journey itself, with an obscure beginning - boarding the subway commuter train from Boston, the author’s superstition making him not reveal his destination, Patagonia.
There is something more fascinating than fiction in this very factual journey and equally detailed description of the trains, the places, the people and his feelings with helpful servings of interesting history. There is more to this book, he has written down verses, quotations, he has made very interesting observations on life and everything else. I wish now that I’d noted down every line that I wanted to note down and every line that made me laugh but then that is part of the pleasure of reading the whole book.
I will do a random opening of pages and see if I come across any…

“…workers are workers they are the silent men in history books…”

“But this was El Salvador, not India – indeed, this heap of junk would have been laughed out of West Bengal, which is saying something.”

“An adult’s cough is frequently an annoyance; a child’s is always helpless and pathetic. I peered into the doorway and said, ‘Are you all right?’ ” – Then begins a conversation that is so genuine that it touches you.

I’ll stop with that. I still have some more chapters and am sure some more fascinating old trains to get acquainted with before I reach Patagonia. It is a most beautiful book and the most charming aspect of this whole journey are the trains of course mostly old but chugging away…
“‘It’s coming,’ says a woman in Marquez’s Macondo, when she sees the first train approach the little town. ‘Something frightful, like a kitchen dragging a village behind it’. ” >>

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