Fresh Air Fiend: Travel Writings

by Paul Theroux

Hardcover, 2000

Call number

818.540 THE



Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2000), 448 pages


In this remarkable collection of essays and articles written over the last fifteen years, Paul Theroux demonstrates how the traveling life and the writing life are intimately connected. Not simply an escape from the mundane, travel has always been a creative act for Theroux. His journeys in remote hinterlands and crowded foreign capitals provide the necessary perspective to "become a stranger" in order to discover the self. Wonderfully broad in scope, thought, and feeling, Fresh Air Fiend touches down on all five continents and floats through most of the seas in between. From the crisp quiet of a solitary week spent in the snow-bound Maine woods, to the expectant chaos of Hong Kong on the eve of the Hand-over, to a small Pacific island where atomic bombs were detonated, Theroux is the perfect guide -- casually informative, keenly observant, wry, and entertaining. As Time has written, Theroux "serves as both the camera and the eye, and both the details and the illusions are developed with brilliance." He also reaches back into his past to tell of his earliest ventures into Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer, treats us to insightful readings of his favorite travel books, and reveals the fascinating stories behind some of his own. Fresh Air Fiend is a companion volume to Theroux's earlier, much beloved Sunrise with Seamonsters, but this is his first collection devoted completely to travel writing, for which the author of such classics as The Great Railway Bazaar and Riding the Iron Rooster is justly famous. Traveling with Theroux is a literary adventure of the first order, never a languid luxury cruise, always an insightful journey to the heart and soul of a place and its people. Fresh Air Fiend is the ultimate good read for anyone fascinated by travel in the wider world or curious about the life of one of our most passionate travelers.… (more)

Media reviews

He can be scathingly funny on his Peace Corps experiences, discerning on the rigors of polar exploration, clinical on illnesses he’s contracted on five different continents, and lyrical on exotic lands threatened by commercialization. A feast for both Theroux aficionados and those lucky enough to
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experience his distinctive world-view and evocative prose for the first time.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member co_coyote
This is a collection of the best of Paul Theroux's travel writings, taking you to five continents and to all manner of interesting experiences. A wonderful book to have with you if you are traveling yourself. Theroux knows how to search out the out-of-way, interesting places.
LibraryThing member clothingoptional
Read it on an airplane and get double miles.
LibraryThing member LindaBallou
Paul Theroux says normal people don’t become writers. It is just not healthy to sit in a room for hours staring intently into your own mind. He counter-balances this basically inward condition by paddling thousand of miles in a kayak. In Fresh Air Fiend he explains why and how this type of
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therapy has become an intrinsic part of his life. This pot- pourri of his experiences and reflections, is more about Paul the human being rather than Paul the observer, than any his other books. He explains why he wrote the books he has, and why he took the trips that inspired them. He never intended to be a travel writer. Like Mark Twain, another great travel writer who needed to make a living as a writer, he did it out of necessity. The fact that he has always been an outsider—just the unhealthy prospective you need to succeed in his line of work—helped him become one of our best contemporary commentators.

Linda Ballou-adventure travel writer and author of
Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawai’i-Her Epic Journey
Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler's Tales
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LibraryThing member splinfo
appreciated being taken out of my world for a while. good adventurer, observer and writer as evidenced by his long career. will continue to read in this genre.
LibraryThing member StaffReads
Enjoyed listening to this. Completely carried away from outside world. Appreciated listening to his kayaking around the world, snow shoeing in MA etc. Resonated with his need to be outdoors. Clearly a skilled writer, adventurer and observer as evidenced by his long career as a travel writer. Will
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go to this genre again.
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0618034064 / 9780618034062


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