Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: 28,000 Miles in Search of the Railway Bazaar

Paul Theroux, Author . Houghton Mifflin $28 (496p) ISBN 978-0-618-41887-9

Acclaimed travel writer and novelist Theroux hasn’t lost his affection for trains, but his view of the scenery outside has darkened in his latest odyssey. Reprising the itinerary of his 1973 The Great Railway Bazaar (with a detour around Iran and Afghanistan into the Central Asian republics), Theroux takes a contrarian stance toward the transformation of Asia over the intervening decades. The persistence of familiar, authentic, rural decrepitude usually heartens him, while the teeming modernity of great cities—the computer-and-oxcart madhouses of Mumbai and Bangalore, the neurotic orderliness of Singapore, the soullessness of Tokyo—appalls. The book is often an elegy for fixity in a globalizing age when everyone is a traveler anxious to get to America and “the world is deteriorating and shrinking to a ball of bungled desolation.” Fortunately, Theroux is too rapt an observer of his surroundings and himself to wallow long in reaction or nostalgia; readers will find his usual wonderfully evocative landscapes and piquant character sketches (and, everywhere, prostitutes soliciting him—most stylishly in Hanoi, where they ride up on motorcycles crying, “You come! Boom-boom!”). No matter where his journey takes him, Theroux always sends back dazzling post cards. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 05/05/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
Genre: Pick of the Week
Paperback - 485 pages - 978-0-14-101572-9
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-7710-8535-2
Ebook - 512 pages - 978-0-7710-8538-3
Compact Disc - 20 pages - 978-1-4361-5557-1
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-0-547-23793-0
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