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UnavailableThe Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas
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The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas

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Currently unavailable on Scribd

The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas

ratings:
3/5 (316 ratings)
Length:
561 pages
12 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Nov 18, 2014
ISBN:
9780547524009
Format:
Book

Description

Starting with a rush-hour subway ride to South Station in Boston to catch the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago, Theroux winds up on the poky, wandering Old Patagonian Express steam engine, which comes to a halt in a desolate land of cracked hills and thorn bushes. But with Theroux the view along the way is what matters: the monologuing Mr. Thornberry in Costa Rica, the bogus priest of Cali, and the blind Jorge Luis Borges, who delights in having Theroux read Robert Louis Stevenson to him.

Publisher:
Released:
Nov 18, 2014
ISBN:
9780547524009
Format:
Book

About the author

PAUL THEROUX is the author of many highly acclaimed books. His novels include The Lower River and The Mosquito Coast, and his renowned travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and Dark Star Safari. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.  


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Reviews

What people think about The Old Patagonian Express

3.0
316 ratings / 12 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    The best of Theroux's travel books. Starting in Boston and ending in Patagonia, Theroux attempts to travel the length of the Americas by rail. Every page has some wonderful writing, with Theroux's jaundiced observations as sharp as ever.
  • (3/5)
    In the end, I had to rush through this book in order to finish it before I left the hotel... which probably did it a disservice.
    On the one hand, it was a fairly meandering read with not so much going on, and I certainly felt the peculiar boredom of travelling somewhere new, for the first time, and not even caring to look up from your book, which Paul Theroux captured well.
    On the other hand, it never got above a "sto gap" read for me, hence 3 stars...
  • (4/5)
    Theroux takes a facinating journey through the Americas. I think this is one of his best train trips and the travelogue is my favourite.Having the ability to travel without a schedule he has the time and chance to observe his fellow passengers from the far northeastern tip of the US through the southern tip of South America. And he is a master at it.
  • (4/5)
    Boston to Patagonia via train. Now, c'mon, you gotta admit that's intrigueing. Theroux is his usual grumpy-but-good-hearted self during his trip. Highly recommended.
  • (3/5)
    I was disappointed by this book as it wasn't so much a description of where he went but who he talked to. (I've even heard doubt that his conversations are all true.) What he did mention about the places he went was all complaints. I suppose I took offense because I have lived in or near many of those places for more than 20 years. I've traveled in the opposite direction he did from Buenos Aires to Quito by bus and had a fantastic trip--even with 3 teenagers along! The two train rides I've had, he missed due to strikes in Peru. We experiences strikes, too, but found it an adventure! Perhaps he should have taken his wife and children along and would have enjoyed it more than leaving them behind for three months. I must say though, there is no doubt he is an excellent writer. Wish I could think of similes like he does!
  • (4/5)
    The weather is always too hot, too cold, or too rainy; the trains are all crowded, late, rackety, and uncomfortable. Theroux crankily endures plague-carrying rats, obnoxious fellow travellers, altitude sickness, flea-bag accomodations, political unrest and tedium, making this a terrific, schadenfreudish read from the comfort of your own home (but fairly off-putting if you are actually contemplating any kind of train journey or travel through Central or South America.)
  • (5/5)
    One of Theroux's classics. This is journal of his train travel in South America.
  • (5/5)
    A most wonderful read. The author makes the mundane interesting. Its a book I often take along when I travel.
  • (5/5)
    One of the best travel books I have ever read. Paul Theroux is just a great writer. Nice account of his journey, which was not at all a pleasant holiday, more the contrary. I will certainly read another book by him.
  • (4/5)
    More about the countries between Patagonia and Boston than Patagonia. Still an interesting read. Theroux's usual dour wit.
  • (4/5)
    Suffers due to the nature of the railway in the Americas - incomplete, oriented east west in many nations. Works anyways, mostly because I have so little context for these areas of the world so any exposure is interesting.
  • (5/5)
    I've been finished with this book for over a month now and have been slowly ... very slowly ... writing down my thoughts on it. If you're a bottom line man, and I know at heart, you are :), Paul Theroux's The Old Patagonian Express is a good read. For what makes it worth a look, read on. I started to read Paul Theroux's The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas (Mariner 1979) because I immediately liked his voice as a writer. Once into the book, I was charmed by Theroux's descriptions, by his occasional grumpiness, and by his rather sardonic wit, so I suggested the book to a couple of my friends. One friend read the first page of the introduction and finding Theroux pretentious, opted to put it back down again. I know the other friend at least started to read the book, but I haven't heard from her since, despite my having left a couple of messages for her, leading me to imagine that she'd either hopped a train herself or really hated Theroux and was no longer speaking to me (I've since learned that she's been in New York and Pittsburgh, which is a whole 'nother story).As for the friend who put the book down, I've read reviews of Theroux that allude to a pretentious tone or attitude, but after completing The Old Patagonian Express and getting about half way through The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia, Theroux's work that preceded Patagonia by 4 years, I haven't found anything that I would interpret as overly-affected. At times the division between culture and/or language is obvious and Theroux sometimes becomes a kind of interpreter of the division, during which points, I suppose, he could be seen as committing the crime he describes in the introduction that made my friend put the book down. The objectionable bit was Theroux's dismissal of the way some travel narrators paint themselves as heroes of a "[q]uest … full of liberties." But then again, I couldn't say if there are liberties in Theroux's book—what I have found, primarily, is a writer who looks to the culture to inform and explain the landscape before him as well as someone who finds amusement in the absurd. In one succinct passage, Theroux describes his border crossing from Guatemala to El Salvador: "The border was a shed. A boy in his sports shirt stamped my passport and demanded money. He asked me if I was carrying any drugs. I said no. What do I do now? I asked him. You go up the road, he said. There you will find another house. That is El Salvador" (127). It is while he is in El Salvador that Theroux goes to a football match between El Salvador and Mexico, during which he approaches his depiction of the match and its 45,000 spectators as " a model of Salvadorean society," complete with the acts of frustration and contempt committed at every level: national, social and individual. At another point, while in Bogatá, Theroux stops to purchase a poster, his choices ranging from posters of political figures whose visages seem to be a blend of Bolívar, Christ, and Che Guevara to posters of Hollywood movie stars to posters of cartoon characters. Theroux describes his choice as "the best of the bunch. It showed Christ on the cross, but he had managed to pull his hand away from one nail, and still hanging crucified but with his free arm around the shoulder of a praying guerrilla fighter, Christ was saying, 'I also was persecuted, my determined guerrilla'" (249). By far, my favorite section of the book, in a book with many highly enjoyable sections, was Theroux's time in Buenes Aires during which he is summoned to meet and subsequently spends several days visiting with and reading to Jorge Luis Borges, who Theroux says has "the fussy precision of a chemist" (364). Through the narrative of his experiences, for me, Theroux delivers on what he says is his purpose in traveling and in writing about traveling: he delivers a book that gives pleasure; it is something to enjoy.