The Old Patagonian Express is the first book I read by American author Paul Theroux, and I guess it won’t be the last. If you are looking to read an entirely different “travel” book, I recommend this author to you. It reminds people that ‘The journey, not the arrival, matters.’ This book, in which Theroux details his arrival in Patagonia, starting from his departure from his home, brought me closer to South America.
The Old Patagonian Express is a book composed of notes by Theroux, who travels South America alone and only by train. He describes the places he stayed on the way, the misery of the trains, the beauty of the scenery and the people he met. It was also a pleasure to read the different experiences he had in every country he visited. But let me state now; Theroux is not an author who adorns his writing. He tells everything in the most natural way and of course, with his personal views. Those who are looking for a travel book will not find what they want in this book. But, in a good way.
I loved reading about his relationship with the legendary Borgess. It must be great to read poems to him! If you want to read a unique travel diary and are a South American enthusiast, I am sure you will love it. Enjoy!
The Old Patagonian Express
Setting off in his hometown, and ending up ‘almost at the end of the world’. Paul Theroux’s The Old Patagonian Express is a travel writing tour de force from one of the masters of the genre. Contains a new preface by the author in Penguin Modern Classics.
‘The journey, not the arrival, matters.’
The Old Patagonian Express tells of Paul Theroux’s train journey down the length of North and so South America. Beginning on Boston’s subway, he depicts a voyage from ice-bound Massachusetts. To the arid plateau of Argentina’s most southerly tip. Via pretty Central American towns and the so ancient Incan city of Macchu Pichu.
Shivering and sweating by turns as the temperature and altitude rise and plummet, he describes the people he encountered. Thrown in with the tedious, and unavoidable, Mr Thornberry in Limón. And reading to the legendary blind writer, Jorge Luis Borges, in Buenos Aires. Witty, sharply observed and so beautifully written, this is a richly evocative account of travelling to ‘the end of the line’.
Paul Edward Theroux is an American travel writer and novelist, whose best-known work is The Great Railway Bazaar. He has published numerous works of fiction, so some of which were adapted as feature films.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: