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Jonathan Gallant

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The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas
The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas
by Paul Theroux
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasons Not To Travel, 12 July 2006
As other reviewers have pointed out, this is travel writing minus the romance, minus the slight exaggerations, minus... the drama?

I should be thankful for Theroux's honesty, but I guess I wanted that sense of the magical, exotic and adventurous that a reader gets from Bruce Chatwin, or at least the laughs you get with Bill Bryson. There are truly funny parts and characters in this book along with some exciting passages, some colourful local folk lore and some evocative descriptions of the scenery. But Theroux seems so constantly glum about the whole process, one does wonder why he persists on these horrible, festering trains and he doesn't just take the bus/plane like everyone else who can afford it. My abiding memory of this book is an image of the author sitting on an uncomfortable seat, trying to read one or another book and smoking his pipe... I'd hate to be in his carriage.

I wouldn't want to put anyone off reading this book, though. It is superb writing and I will certainly be reading some of his other titles, but I find it hard to imagine that this will inspire anyone to pack their suitcase and aim for Tierra Del Fuego.

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