Weekend Reading: September 23, 2016

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Weekend Reading: June 3, 2016

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Reader’s Corner: Paul Theroux’s ‘Deep South’

Deep South-coverPaul Theroux has spent decades traversing the world and writing about it. Although some of his fiction has been set in America, his travel writing has always been the sort of thing that required a passport. In his newest book, Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads, Theroux rectifies that oversight with a deep dive into the American south and its beautiful and fraught contradictions.

Deep South hit stores last week. My review is at PopMatters.

There’s an essay called “The South of the South” that Theroux published last year in the Smithsonian magazine that will give you some idea of what he was after in this book.

Writer’s Desk: Theroux on Travel Writing

TheOldPatagonianExpressFor the 2011 release of his bibs-and-bobs collection The Tao of Travel, Paul Theroux had an interview in the Atlantic where—after noting that “Blogs look to me illiterate, they look hasty, like someone babbling”—he dispensed some advice to those in the travel-writing game:

The main shortcut is to leave out boring things. People write about getting sick, they write about tummy trouble, they write about having to wait for a bus. They write about waiting. They write three pages about how long it took them to get a visa. I’m not interested in the boring parts. Everyone has tummy trouble. Everyone waits in line. I don’t want to hear about it.

It’s probably not advice that most travel writers want to heed. After all, once you’ve spent three months in Siberia racking up expenses, you sure as hell better have something that the magazine is going to want to print. If nothing happens, embellishment or poetic license might seem more enticing.

Theroux also suggests to travel light:

The minimum is a change of clothes, a book, a toothbrush, notebooks, an extra pen. I don’t bring extra shoes. Just the necessities. I travel with a small duffel bag that fits under a seat on the plane, as well as a briefcase. The briefcase is my office. I’m always happier when I don’t have a lot of stuff.

The fewer things you have, the less you’ll pay attention to them. A pen, some paper, and your eyes and ears are all you need.