Review: Paul Theroux and Rosie Boycott

Theroux tracked his fascination with travel back to being from a large family and being encouraged by his mother to play outside. Travel in distant places requires negotiation and the experience of negotiation that is also derived from being in a competitive family environment prepared him for his calling.

For a decade as a writer he didn’t consider himself to be a travel writer but was partly inspired to become one by V S Naipaul. “I never had a problem with writing about travel although the travel itself was often dangerous.” Being shot at was one of those dangers.

Boycott asked about about the ethics of adventure travel and eco tourism about which Theroux has been critical. The writer however expresses the importance of bearing witness to events in particular times and places. He expressed regret that he had heeded US government advice not to travel to pre apartheid South Africa.

He drew comparisons between the haunted eyes of people in Cambodia and those he saw in Africa. Although it is a country with great beauty but you have the visceral feeling of the evil that took place there.

He finished by expressing a desire to travel in a VW camper van perhaps across the southern United States.

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