Quite some years ago I read The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux after seeing a review in the newspaper, and through it became quite a fan.
For some time I was mesmerised by the flow of his words. He would insert some speech which often seemed at odds with the narrative; an invitation to meander even while engrossed in the story.
Principally he aroused in me a seemingly pointless ambition to insert colons and semi-colons anywhere and everywhere. Even today I will write some piece of officialese and find I have dropped a semi-colon or two therein: the conundrum then is whether they should remain. Bureaucratese is not an habitual resting place for these undervalued grammatical oddities.
So it was predictable tonight that I would be interested when I came across this Theroux piece. I had to read it, not least because I am sick of reading bitter polemic everywhere else.
The article is all in that familiar, lolloping rhythm that I first noticed all those years ago; his style hasn't changed at all. His insights may be a little more stilted now, I much preferred his reflection of the UK at the time (The Kingdom by the Sea). This one is full of points being made, rather portentously. Results of fame, I guess.
And I still have in my head the observation he made about Australians - specifically Australian backpackers - in The Great Railway Bazaar. Travelling third class across pre-Islamic Revolution Iran, he noted that when travelling in the lowest class possible, there would inevitably be Australians there. It seemed intended as an insult but probably more accurately reflected a national pragmatism; less spent on train tickets, more to spend on booze.