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Fresh Air Fiend: Travel Writings
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Fresh Air Fiend: Travel Writings

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,144 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
In this remarkable collection of essays and articles written over the last fifteen years, Paul Theroux demonstrates how the traveling life and the writing life are intimately connected. Not simply an escape from the mundane, travel has always been a creative act for Theroux. His journeys in remote hinterlands and crowded foreign capitals provide the necessary perspective t ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published May 8th 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2000)
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Jessica
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jessica by: those interested in good writing & the world...
From this book and 'Sir Vidia's Shadow,' which I also recently finished, I can say that I very much trust Theroux as a reliable guide and observer, an insightful writer about people and place. I've read little of his fiction so far (only a few stories here and there, never a novel) but I liked this collection of travel writings a good deal. The book is divided into thematic sections, which really helps as there are numerous essays here, all written between 1985 and 2000. Early on Theroux makes a ...more
Matt
May 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-writing
Few books oscillate this wildly from the profound to the profoundly boring. Paul Theroux, I don't care about each and every one of your kayaking misadventures or the toast you made off Nantucket over a camp fire. I do like some of your other essays though.
Jo Deurbrouck
Sigh. Halfway through, I may need a Theroux break. Vinegar is not the only seasoning that makes food taste good.

The man is an exquisite wordsmith and a sharp-eyed observer, but one of the things that means is that his lack of compassion, lack of empathy and big doses of judgmental superiority sparkle like diamonds throughout the essays. I want to yell every so often, "YES! We are not as cool as you! If we concede that point, apparently so important to you, can you mellow out and tell us a good
...more
Nick
Mar 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This is a collection of Theroux's shorter travel pieces. Most have something interesting to offer ... cruising down the Yangtze in 1980 when the Cultural Revolution was fresh in people's minds; visiting Christmas Island in Micronesia, once the site for nuclear testing; comments on travel writing and travelling. I would give it 3.5 stars, maybe not quite up there with his fuller travel books, but readable nevertheless.
Miguel
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, travelogue
Uma ântologia de texto previamente publicados, na sua maioria em revistas de viagens. A organização faz-se por temas (por exemplo, China, Havai ou textos sobre livros de viagens). A escrita é, como sempre, entusiasmante, e Theroux é sempre igual a si próprio.
Judy
Dec 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a strange mixture of Paul Theroux's non-fiction writing. There was less of his usual travel writing, which I enjoy so much.

Near the beginning was an large, difficult-to-digest chunk on modern China reminiscent of the least enjoyable swathes of a school history syllabus. I willed myself through it and ended up feeling I knew a bit more about the country, if not attracted to it. However, it is surely a worthy report and analysis. Theroux really does get right into the thick of places and
...more
Will
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This is a book I wish I had read earlier because it may be as close as we get to an autobiography, and I have always wanted to understand what drives his writing.
I love Paul Theroux’s travel writing, and I’ve never understood why people consider him such a cranky grump; rather there’s an abundance of affection for people he meets. In this collection of travels, essays, personal history and much else, what is remarkable is his forbearance under duress (even if it’s all self-imposed). It is such a
...more
Sarah
Jul 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of Paul Theroux in the New Yorker. I've never picked up a collection of his essays and decided to try this one. This man is adventurer extraordinaire, but his pretension is a little overpowering. Also, he might be the one adventure writer who hates China (besides Grace Paley back when she was a pro-Communist student).
Alexis
Jul 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Found this collection to be a bit uneven. Admittedly, I did skim some of the essays and entries. Sometimes Theroux can be a wonderfully funny and irreverent travel writer. Other times, he comes off as whiny and crabby. There were some pieces that I absolutely loved, and a few that I skipped. Good if you want to dip in and out, I guess.
Bettie☯
Feb 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: BBC listeners
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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...
“Travel is a state of mind. It has nothing to do with existence or the exotic. It is almost always an inner experience.” 4 likes
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