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©2008 Paul Theroux; (P)2009 WF Howes Ltd
Brilliant, vivid, nostalgic, alarming - Paul Theroux's re-run of the journey he took 30 years before from London to the East is simply magnificent. He recounts his impressions and adventures with honesty and humour.
If you've read and enjoyed Theroux's 'The Great Railway Bazaar', then you'll love his fascinating and insightful retracing of that journey.
I was looking forward to this book, thinking it may be similar to a Bill Bryson type travel adventure. It definitely was not. This book has virtually no humour and is very hard to listen to as the narrator's voice is incredibly dull.
"ghost train to the eastern star"
I've always considered Paul Theroux my travel mentor since I hitch hiked half the world at 18. For anyone who has dreamed of revisiting the world they visited more then thirty years ago Ghost Train is a delight. I've read all of Theroux's fiction and non-fiction and this is one of his best non-fiction books. I think Theroux has mellowed a bit. He is not the curmudgeon of Dark Star Safari or other recent non-fiction. I love his observations of people he meets, especially his train companions. The portrait of his Burmese guide and his generosity towards him will always be indelibly etched in my mind. I fantasize that in some far away place I might meet him on a train.(although one should be wary of what he might say about the encounter later in a book) I also appreciated the sense that as one gets older travel is more challenging, but with life's experiences we view the world's people with more compassion and the governments more cynically.
"Engrossing but kind of depressing"
Good value in the vast distance and many cultures and nations covered, and the many hours of densely packed details he puts in, so if you want to be taken on a very long and detailed journey from Europe to Japan, it's the book to get. By the end though, the overall feeling was a bit depressive and jaded and the impression of nearly all the societies he visited was on the negative side - most of the population he encountered seemed to be either poor, desperate, drunk, grubby, corrupt or willing to do anything for a buck, which of course may well be true but was a fairly humourless theme. And his focus on talking to and about prostitutes wherever he went was starting to tip the balance from general interest to slightly uncomfortable obsession towards the end. Overall, quite engrossing and informative but not very optimistic about that part of the world - which is a pretty big chunk of the world - and I'd have to say ultimately no "feel good" in fact a bit of a "feel bad" experience.
"Great audio adventure"
Pretty High. I have a hard time reviewing the books I do not love.
The main character had so much understanding of people.
Yes,,,He is my favorite narrator. I have listened to most of what he has done and I loved Grand and Glorious Physician. The other story of Luke in the Bible. McDonaugh just is the characters to me. I also loved his Mitford Series and could not listen to the prequeal because it was not him.
I think his time in Viet Nam was amazing.
"A great follow up to the first"
I thoroughly enjoyed The Great Railway Bazaar, and so I decided to take this one on too.
I was afraid that this wouldn't live up, but it really did.
Paul's writing is excellent, and he's still an avid traveler; the fact that he had to change course from the original route made it all the more interesting as he was able to reach new places that he hadn't before.
"Not that great"
Largely a fan of Mr. Theroux and his style of writing but after 20 hours I had to stop. The book began well and even advanced well but became long and laborious - toward the end seemingly sex trade orientated. Even my husband who listens haphazardly as he's in and out of the room said "wow, that book tanked."
"Extraordinary writing; superb narration"
Theroux retraces (to the extent he was able) the journey he made three decades earlier in the Great Railway Bazaar. I travel a lot and read a lot of travel books. This is one of the best travel books I have ever read (including Theroux's other travel books, of which I'm a big fan). Mature, poignant, unflinchingly observation of "countries with their pants down" and the human condition in this too hot, overcrowded and economically unequal world. Even after 20 hours + narration I didn't want it to end. McDonough's superb narration is a perfect fit.
"A more mature Theroux retraces his earlier journey"
I am a Theroux fan so was predisposed to like this book anyway. But it was especially good because he was retracing journey he described in The Great Railway Bazaar. The journey had changed and so had the man himself.
"A must read!"
I read The Great Railway Bazaar and I listened to Ghost Train... Godfather II is a great movie, but perhaps not as great as its forerunner. Is this the same? Too soon to say. Let me sleep on it. I have too much respect for Paul Theroux to let myself be disappointed. I have no doubt I will listen to this one again. 👍🏼
"Paul Theroux Writes Winners"
Theroux is a master writer. if you are an armchair traveler Theroux is the man to travel with.
"World from a train/ touching vignettes of humanity"
people more alike v, different
other theroux non fiction, or paul friedman hot flat and crowded
two scenes: when theroux and his friend gave money to impoverished drivers to realize their dreams. Many professional reviewers of this book have called theroux self centered, yet he is charitable to unlikely unknown people in unlikely unknown places
no, these types of books are to be consumed slowly
small details reveal the state of the humanity
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