"DAZZLING." --Time "[THEROUX'S] WORK IS DISTINGUISHED BY A SPLENDID EYE FOR DETAIL AND THE TELLING GESTURE; a storyteller's sense of pacing and gift for granting closure to the most subtle progression of events; and the graceful use of language. . . . We are delighted, along with Theroux, by the politeness of the Turks, amazed by the mountainous highlands in Syria, touched by the gesture of an Albanian waitress who will not let him pay for his modest meal. . . . The Pillars of Hercules [is] engrossing and enlightening from start (a damning account of tourists annoying the apes of Gibraltar) to finish (an utterly captivating visit with Paul Bowles in Tangier, worth the price of the book all by itself)." --Chicago Tribune "ENTERTAINING READING . . . WHEN YOU READ THEROUX, YOU'RE TRULY ON A TRIP." --The Boston Sunday Globe "HIS PICARESQUE NARRATIVE IS STUDDED WITH SCENES THAT STICK IN THE MIND. He looks at strangers with a novelist's eye, and his portraits are pleasantly tinged with malice." --The Washington Post Book World "THEROUX AT HIS BEST . . . An armchair trip with Theroux is sometimes dark, but always a delight." --Playboy "AS SATISFYING AS A GLASS OF COOL WINE ON A DUSTY CALABRIAN AFTERNOON . . . With his effortless writing style, observant eye, and take-no-prisoners approach, Theroux is in top form chronicling this 18-month circuit of the Mediterranean." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Reading the travelogues of Paul
"In life, it is inevitable that you meet someone just like yourself. What a shock that your double is not very nice, and seems selfish and judgmental and frivolous and illogical."
The book begins on a fiesty note - at the Rock of Gibraltar, one of the "Pillars of Hercules" where the author clearly prefers the company of apes to 'tourists'. Tourists he thinks are the worst kinds of humans but he promises early on not to talk about them. Mr. Theroux of course is not a tourist, he is a traveler. The interesting fact is that I agree with his characterization, at least of himself. I found the overall tone less vitriolic than the one employed in Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and Dark Star Safari. There are three cities the author showers considerable praise on - Dubrovnik, Jerusalem and Venice. He is kinder to the Italians but ruthless in his criticism of the Greeks. He relates his frustrating experience with Israel's security and then talks about his meeting with American expat Paul Bowles that borders on the surreal. I've encountered Istanbul twice in Mr. Theroux' works - once in Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and once in Pillars of Hercules - and I can't wait to go visit that grand city. There are encounters with other writers and other, more colorful characters, each contributing to a delightfully readable account.
Mr. Theroux says -
"But then a travel book is a very strange thing, there are few good excuses for writing one--all of them personal..The fairest way of judging travel books is by their truth and their wit"
If he were to judge his work by his own standards, I would say Mr. Theroux would be very proud. Highly recommended.