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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star

I’m beginning to believe that it’s just not possible for me to be a fan of Paul Theroux. I’ve now read three of his books and have only enjoyed one, and that one only mildly.
Ghost Train to the Eastern Star is the third book of his I’ve read, and it comes on the tails of reading The Great Railway Bazaar. And really the only different in the two books is a few countries and about 30 years.
In Ghost train to the Eastern Star Theroux attempts to retrace his route through Europe and Asia. Due to some visa problems he has to skip certain countries, like Iran, and go through others he didn’t before, like Turkmenistan, but he essentially follows the same route he did before as he chronicles the changes in the countries that he notices.
I certainly enjoyed reading about the new places Theroux went, particularly Turkmenistan. I found it extremely interesting to learn more about a country that seems so distant. I was even inspired to go read a little about the history of the country and to learn more about it, beyond what I already knew from studying Soviet history in college.
But, on the other than, I found Theroux to be overly obsessed with the sexual culture of every place he visited, constantly pointing out all of the pimps, madams and prostitutes that solicited him.
To a point those things are interesting, but Theroux excessively dwelled on them. It became redundant and I quickly lost interest when it seemed like that’s all every chapter was about.
And if he wasn’t being solicited, then he was going into porn shops, like in Japan. Or instead he was commenting on the sexual manga comics, that the Japanese bought and read, making it sound like a national obsession that had gone wild.
It really all became too much and too redundant, thus making me lose interest half way through the book. And at that point, I had to stop and pick up something else to read instead since this book was just flat out boring.
It’s really too bad that I found the first book of his I read, Dark Star Safari, interesting. Had I not, I would’ve never bought these last two books. But I fell in the trap of thinking that his other books would be just as enjoyable as the first I read, so I bought them as a pair since they seemed to go together.
Unfortunately now I feel as though I wasted my money on a pair of books I would’ve done better reading about in a summary somewhere on the internet.
On the other hand, I still am looking forward to reading another of Theroux’s books. My brother purchased The Kingdom by the Sea for me for Christmas this last year, and I still am looking forward to reading it before I head off to England, one of these years, to visit my friend Stephen.
I just think, when I do, I must pick up a couple of Bill Bryson books as well about the country across the pond. I’ve found Bryson to be a much more enjoyable travel author than Theroux. He seems to be a lot less arrogant and pompous, and a lot better at expressing the same travel thoughts and experiences I have had and still do have than Theroux.
In reference to Ghost Train to the Eastern Star though, I highly recommend you just skip it and The Great Railway Bazaar. In such tough economic times, your hard earned money could be much better spent than paying for a man to live in Hawaii and Cape Cod.

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One Comment on “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star”

  1. themissadventurejournals April 8, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    I’m surprised you are not a fan of Paul Theroux. I have only read Dark Star Safari, but I loved it. I can see how you might find him arrogant but to me he is just… English. He is clearly a sexual deviant though, I will give you that.

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