Lianne's Reviews > The Mosquito Coast

The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux
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's review
Oct 12, 2011

Read in September, 2011

I've had this book on my secondary shelves for decades. Paul Theroux is one of my favorite creative nonfiction writers.I heard him recently interviewed after publishing his latest anthology of travel called "The Tao of Travel." In the interview he referred to taking a train ride through the jungle and being inspired to write "The Mosquito Coast." I was curious to see an example of how a travel experience could lead to the writing of fiction. "The Mosquito Coast" occupies a place in the literary tradition of the genre of jungle adventures gone bad like Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," and Barbara Kingsolver's "Poisonwood Bible." The fathers in Kingsolver's novel and Theroux's "Mosquito Coast" both are men with a drive to escape the corruption of American urban life and make a new start in a distant land. Kingsolver's father is Christian, and Theroux's an atheist. But both are fanatic in their resistence to adapt their world view to the reality before them. Both almost take down their families with them in the process. "The Mosquito Coast" is told from the point of view of Charlie, a ten year old boy who is at once favored and abused by his father's expectations and training program. I felt this novel of Theroux's holds up very well after almost thirty years. It is a powerful suspenseful story masterfully written.

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