I was instantly drawn to the smart and fluid construction of his sentences, his wry wit and honed powers of description. His travel narratives address the complete experience of voyaging to unfamiliar lands, all ugliness and discomfort intact. To Theroux, travel is hardly synonymous with vacationing and should be viewed as an undertaking of enlightenment and most of all surprise. "Tourists don't know where they've been; travelers don't know where they're going," he wrote.
My initiation to Theroux was Fresh Air Fiend, a collection of essays about the remarkable people and places he's encountered in some 50 years circumnavigating the planet. Now I have three more Theroux tomes in my possession: the novel Hotel Honolulu and the travel books Sunrise with Seamonsters and The Old Patagonian Express. I'm making headway with all three at once.
His work is painted with a joyous spirit, a quest for meaning, and an appreciation of the world's beauty and heartache. These books reveal a man going to great lengths to savor and make sense of every moment.
"I cannot make my days longer so I strive to make them better," he said. It would be hard, in my opinion, to hold a more valuable point of view.