Thursday, May 22, 2014

Theroux's Sunrise with Seamonsters: An enchanting introduction to English Literature, random authors, Theroux and other demons


Long long ago, I used to enjoy Paul Theroux. And then I chose not to read him and others who view the world as through a film of scum. He is, undeniably,  among those living authors whose works can be classified as Literature. Yet, like many such of these times, or, actually of a certain chunk of history, he manages, mostly, to leave one feeling distinctly soiled, leaves that which he writes about, tainted.

It was a random pick when I was in a bit of a hurry, that left me reading Sunrise with Seamonsters.

This is a book I would choose if I were to give one class on English literature. Theroux's pieces, of which this book is a collection, deal, as we are wont to expect from him, with his travels, on the one hand: Burma, Malaysia, Africa and India, among other places, lands he has traveled or lived in.

On the other side, the book has outstanding essays on authors like R L Stevenson and Henry James, to mention a few. One of my favourite chapters concerns the time he met Naipaul and how the latter became his mentor, in a way. I later found, by surfing the Internet, that they had a major feud along the way. So, this book is a great read for anyone who enjoys English language literature and a painless way for the amateur litterateur to acquire some knowledge about the great authors of that genre.

An added bonus is his splendid though sometimes noxious style. Little wonder that he chose to look upon Naipaul as a guru! And it is this trait which, of course, made the Singapore Government wary of him.

It's a delightfully gossipy and irreverent way to learn something of how famous authors, including Theroux, write, how they live and how the mighty can be flighty or just plain petty.

This is an excellent book for the traveler, the student of English and American literature, the reader who enjoys fine writing laced with piquant spice and anyone who enjoys a good  read.

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