paul theroux

We talked circumspectly at first, as strangers do, reaching agreement on trivialities before risking anything personal.
— Paul Theroux, The Old Patagonian Express.
I have been reading Paul Theroux lately, and I like him. This is a travel book where he takes a train ride starting from his home and ending in Patagonia in South America. There’s the obvious fantasy of escaping from my work that attracted me to reading this in the first place. I imagine that I could do something like this too, just pick up and go somewhere else, but picking an arduous route, and making incisive observations of the things I see and the people I meet.I read the sentence and thought I knew exactly what he meant. I’ve done it before, everyone’s done it before, but I haven’t given form to this until I see it expressed before me in such fitting words. We agree on trivialities, we sound the other person out, before we risk something personal. I think I must have nodded my head quietly, or thought that this was great writing, when I was reading this sentence on the train.


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