Patrick C.'s Reviews > The Lower River

The Lower River by Paul Theroux
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M 50x66
's review
Jun 25, 2012

really liked it

This is a story of a man in his sixties, bored and disappointed in his life - his busines is failing, his wife has left him, and his daughter is a self-absorbed and ungrateful brat. He fondly remembers the years he spent in an isolated villiage as a Peace Corp volunteer as a young adult, and impulsively decides to cut all ties and return. His fantasies of the continued development since his leaving and the kind of reception he'll receive are quickly dashed. The story becomes on of dealing with brutal poverty, cynical and manipulative natives who's learned all the wrong lessons from Western do-gooders, captivity, illness, despair and....

Sounds like fun, eh?

I really liked this book - it's somewhat of a modern "Heart of Darkness; also an interesting character study and the gradual unpeeling of one's layers of self conceits, naivety, assumptions and self concept.

This is my first read of Paul Theroux, himself a Peace Corp volunteer in this very region as a young man; his sensitivity to the peoples, cultures and ultimate impact of Western aid in such areas provides a convincing sense of realism and authenticity; I think I'll be looking for more from this author.

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