Just like them he was a wisp of diminishing humanity with nothing in his pockets hardly had pockets and he felt a lightness because of it With no money he was insubstantial and beneath notice As soon as everyone knew he had nothing they would stop asking him for money would stop talking to him altogether probably Yet tugging at this lightness was another sensation of weight his poverty like an anchor He couldn t move or o anywhere he had no bargaining power He was anchored by an absence of money not just immovable but sitting and slipping lower Paul TherouxI have met Paul Theroux several times but the most memorable was in Seattle I was in town selling remainder books to the local bookstores and one of my stops was the University Bookstore I noticed that Theroux was booked to be there that night for a reading At each bookstore stop I had that day I looked for a copy of one of his books that I didn t already own so I could have something for him to sign I found a copy of The Kingdom by the Sea I was early for the event Paul was late He arrived 40 minutes late and informed us that he had been enjoying his meal and had lingered over his aperitif I had heard stories of his arrogance before so I didn t bother to be offended Besides I had a book to read He launched into this diatribe about cigarette smoking and how no one who didn t smoke couldn t possible understand just how wonderful the activity of smoking was I don t remember what book he was touring for but it was one of his novels His handler tried to bring him back to the purpose of the tour a couple of times but Paul was locked in on his subject I can only assume he was not allowed to smoke with his meal and that may have triggered this lecture I don t mean to make him sound like an ogre He was charming and brimming with intelligence appearing truly academic in his Yolanda's Genius green tweed with leather arm patches and hislasses slightly askew on his faceTheroux is best known for his train based travel books I can still remember when I read The Great Railway Bazaar I had never read anything like it before His prose sparks with acerbic asides balanced by witty lines He is not politically correct He is opinionated and even at times the reader can tell his thoughts of a region are colored by one bad interaction with a native as he stepped off the train He ets mad and can make an ass of himself He shows his thorns and his spontaneous acts of kindness The reader alternates between wanting to smack him in the head and shake his hand AND yet I couldn t wait for his latest released travel book His fiction is a bit uneven He has total misses and then he releases The Mosuito Coast arguable his best book and certainly his best known book When I finally approached Theroux with my proffered offering I launched into a impromptu speech about how much I loved his travel books It miffed him I had read somewhere that he was sensitive about his fiction He saw himself as a novelist He shoved my book back at me and dismissed me with a look at the next person in line behind me I should have known better I laughed all the way down the hallway and all the way out to my rental car in the parking lot He was exactly who I expected him to be Ellis Hock spent four years in the Peace Corps in the African country of Malawi He would have stayed longer but two things happened simultaneously The woman he was half in love with could not have sex with him because she was betrothed to another and his father dies He moves back to Massachusetts and takes over the family business While in Africa he had developed a hobby of catching dangerous snakes and letting them curl around his arm The Malawians are deathly afraid of snakes and looked on his relationship with snakes as mystical Back in Boston he has a friend that knows a woman having issues with her python The smell of the snake the feel of the snake sent his senses reeling back to his time in Africa The clothing business he inherited from his father was being decimated by imports and cheap competition His wife had divorced him taking his family home in the process His daughter is only interested in her inheritance assuming that despite the fact that she treats him with nothing short of disdain that he would still be willing to ive her anything He is 62 years old and he dreams of his time in AfricaHock chucks it all not a difficult decision Die Kunst Des Zeichnens: Die grosse Zeichenschule: Praxisorientiert und gut erklärt given his circumstances and heads to Africa back to the village of hisreatest triumph Malabo The village is located along the lower river and is still lagging far behind the rest of the country He returns to find the school he had built decimated The people are barely at subsistence living He is famous though most of the people he had known before are dead Stories of his snake *handling and his teaching have been passed down to the next eneration The head man assigns *and his teaching have been passed down to the next eneration The head man assigns a irl to help him to wait on passed down to the next eneration The head man assigns him a irl to help him to wait on hand and foot and also provide him with any other assistance he desires He first really becomes aware of Zizi when he comes upon her wading in a pool The whole luminous process of the irl slowly lifting her chitenje wrap as she waded deeper into the still pool was one of the most teasing heart stirring visions he d ever had Yet she wasn t a tease The cloth inched up with the rising water and when it exposed the small honey colored lobes of her buttocks and she half turned to steady herself the surface of the reen pool brimmed against the patch of darkness at the narrowness of her body a lint of old the skirt cloth twisted just above it Hock felt a hunger he had not known for forty years He stared at the spangled sunlight in the Times of Bede gap between her legsAs it becomes apparent that Hock is being held captive by the village He fights his desires along with the old memories of his triumphs in this very place The head man slowly bleeds him dry of money As his circumstances become and dire with desperation he attempts to escape He is recaptured Hock looked around wishing for a snake a fat one a viper that he can seize and shake at them like a thunderbolt African Black MambaHock puts Zizi inrave danger in a last ditch effort to escape his captivity He is tired and sick with malaria and beyond mere desperation What we will The Catechism of the Council of Trent give up to survive sometimes is very startling He has become ahost of the man he once was As a woman of the village sums up Your food has been eaten Your money has been eaten Your hope too all City for Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York gone We have eaten youTheroux does not shy away from the AIDS epidemic that has devastated the populations of Africa There is a village of kids throw aways that have been orphaned by AIDS The book has tones of Greene and Conrad If you are fans of those writers you will not be disappointed with this book Okay Paul maybe you are than just areat travel writer Maybe you are also a very capable novelist The book captivated me it pulled me in I did not want to put it down Yeah I liked it a lot but if you were to ask me if it is as ood as the author s non fiction I would definitely say no It s like comparing apples and oranges The Lower River is an exciting book but realistic It is well written meaning it has lines that are tantalizingly beautiful Other lines are frightening and scary It conveys a noteworthy message a word of warning about aid to underdeveloped poor countries where both famine and corruption are rampantEllis Hock is sixty two His wife has left him He has to figure out what to do now He thinks back on his years in Malawi he had worked for the Peace Corps Then he had been in his twenties the Peace Corps was a better alternative than the Vietnam War Now looking back he remembers those years as the best in his life He returns The story relates what happensI learned from this book about the orphan villages between Mozambiue and Malawi I learned about the indigenous Sena people of Malawi I learned even a bit about snakesI like how the author acknowledges sexual attraction but does not overdo it Moral restraints play in tooThe ending is balanced realistic a mix of ood and badJefferson Mays narrates the audiobook I have Književna groupie 2: Strovaljivanje given his performance 4 stars There are many African words in the dialogs and in the text To me who knows no such languages I can only note that the words spoken feltenuine Never does Mays alter his pronunciation of a iven word never does he falter or hesitate He uses different intonations for different characters He dramatizes but not excessively He knows when to pause Non fiction Deep South Four Seasons on Back Roads 4 starsThe Old Patagonian Express By Train Through the Americas 4 starsGhost Train to the Eastern Star 4 starsThe Last Train to Zona Verde My Ultimate African Safari 4 stars Fiction The Mosuito Coast 1 starThe Lower River 4 stars By the time this book begins Ellis is at a crossroads and hesitates what to do after possessing the tailoring When he learns of a woman who has a monstrous python as a pet who began to behave strangely he called to ive an opinion The snake ained the sleeping habit against its owner and realizes the animal is taking measurements of the woman and preparing to devour her The contact with the animal its smell and behaviour summon sensations so strong that it decides to return to Africa without realizing that it is on the way to its destruction and that like the owner of the python sooner or later it will have a destin. Ellis Hock never believed that he would return to Africa He runs an old fashioned menswear store in a small town in Massachusetts but still dreams of his Eden the four years he spent in Malawi with the Peace Corps cut short when he had to return to take over the family business When his wife leaves him taking th. .
Paul Theroux ☆ 6 DownloadORD OF THE FLIES a ripe and menacing limpse into primitive culture It reminded me of a few select lines in the movie APOCALPYSE NOW from General Corman Because there s a conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational between Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. David Shields good and evil Andood does not always triumph Sometimes the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature Hock s trek to his idealized paradise is an unforgettable life lesson written with intelligence and raw clarity Theroux can be a bit long winded at times he isn t into economy of words However his techniue serves the story well with the subtle and nuanced delivery of a ruthless civilization one that is all too ferociously human I came to The Lower River with high expectations mostly founded on Paul Theroux s wonderful travel writing What I loved about books like Riding the Iron Rooster is true for this one as well nobody describes unusual or exotic locales uite like him Sadly that s where the wonder stopped this timeEllis Hock was a compelling enough character in the beginning Characters approaching old age seem to seldom Learner Strategies in Language Learning get the starring role in contemporary novels so I though it refreshing that we det to see him Dangerously Placed go through a late life crisis try to re insert himself into his youth to reboot his life I found him relatable if a bit of a downer and the beginnings of his journey rang true Then came AfricaWithout spoiling things too much it s safe to say that the Malawi he remembered from his 20 s was not where he found himself in his 60 s Instead of the joyous homecoming he anticipated he was met with antipathy by the locals uickly devolving into something far sinister Even as I write this the premise sounds exciting than what actually lies on the pagesMaybe that s the problem the story just lies there It s as if the pacing itselfot heatstroke early on and couldn t be bothered to rise from the hammock for the rest of the story Themes repeat themselves ad nauseum without Just Destiny gaining much in the way of insight The characters Hock included rarely stray from the expected The story arc is as flat as the lazy river itself tepid and predictable There are surprises sprinkled throughout the story but they seem calibrated to drive home a single point hungry people will do whatever it takes to find a meal It s true I m sure but is that enough to hang a novel onThe whole exercise just felt uninspired and lugubrious At one point I found myself stopping to see where I was in the novel and actually rolling my eyes that I still had half the work left to read That s not aood sign By the time the novel reached its sudden yet curiously anticlimactic ending I was thoroughly disengaged from both the village and the weatherbeaten Mr HockI Paradise Run gave this one two stars The first is out of pure nostalgia for thereat works Paul Theroux has produced before the second for a few interesting characters even if they don t progress much if at all during the tale and for his knack for setting a scene in a way that puts an armchair traveler right into the thick of the African bush If only he d picked up the pace if only the journey could be said to have changed the lives of at least one of the characters if only Anyone who has read Paul Theroux knows one of his key themes is the American innocent abroad refusing to acknowledge the dark side of the people he encountersor himself In many of his past novels his characters are transplanted into a new culture and struggle to survive against environmental cultural and psychological pressuresFor those who enjoy Theroux his latest novel does not disappoint In fact it soars Once again we are treated to an anti hero who is forced to meet his overblown expectations head on And once again there are tendrils of Theroux s own life Ellis Hock like Theroux himself hails from Medford Massachusetts and spent time in the backwaters of Malawi as a teacher during a tender ageTheroux was actually dismissed from the Peace Corps for becoming involved in Malawi s politicsNow forty years later Hock s business and marriage have failed his daughter has revealed her avarice and he decides to return to The Lower River the poorest part of a poor country and home of the superstitious Sena people The ensuing tale a tale of salvation and damnation evocative of Heart of Darkness or Lord of the Flies is downright hypnotic Hock is known as the man who handles snakes in a village that fears them this tale too rips around the reader holding tight not letting o Hock did not want to think that Africa was hopeless But in reality the school would remain a roofless shell a nest of snake the office a hideout for the orphan boys the clinic a ruin The plot twists are so intriguing that I don t even want to allude to them suffice to say that Theroux delves deeply into whether a healthy interest in a different culture can coincide with the arrogance and egotism that we bring to that culture What do you want I m from #America I can et food I can find money you Hock says when placed #I can et food I can find money for you Hock says when a potentially dangerous situation Yet as he later discovers You come with money to the poor and they are so frenzied by hunger that all they see is the money They never see your face and so when the money is Dignity Rising 1: Gefesselte Seelen gone you are revealed as mere flesh a surprise They don t know you The most riveting parts of the story are the power plays between Hock and Manyenga the cynical and sniveling village chief who oppresses him with meaninglessestures of honor baring to the core what he believes the mzungo divinity the white man is all about There is much to mull over This looks such a simple place But no everyone lies so you can t know it allIf you re hungry you will do everything you will agree to anything you will say anything Once Theroux has masterfully displayed a clash of the cultures and their false expectations This is my first but not my last book by Paul Theroux He could be a modern Hardy the story is well told and bleak bleak bleak Throughout there s a theme of entrapment everyone is trapped in this story Ellis Hock is trapped in a lifetime of duties his only free happy time being the 4 years he spent in the village of Malago in Malawi during his early 20s At 62 he decides to The Book of Mordred go back to relive these happy years In the 40 years since his last visit the country hasone from hopeful to despair AIDS is taking its toll on the people there s last visit the country has Oracle R12 Applications DBA Field Guide gone from hopeful to despair AIDS is taking its toll on the people there s everywhere The people are trapped Ellis experiences in the village of Malago are as trapped and destitute as his life and the life of the people of Malawi There are many themes throughout this book all wonderfully interwoven It s difficult to mention them all fear superstition hate Foreign Aid mistrust lies destitution arrogance etc The people of Malawi are not deeply portrayed or explored The story is told from the point of view of Ellis so this could be explained by Ellis ignorance of the people A well told story I like to think of myself as alass half full person but when it comes to my literature I like a half empty writer This explains my love for Thomas Hardy no one can make a character s life bleak and miserable than Hardy see The Mayor of Casterbridge I like to think of Paul Theroux as the modern euivalent I don t know why but I do love to read a tragedy or about a fall from Wie war das noch? Schulwissen, neu aufpoliert grace Maybe it is just a reminder of howood my own life is or a my own ward against tragedyI was at my book club Saturday night and mentioned I had just started Theroux s latest novel the Lower River One of my friends said I hate Thereoux and admitted to throwing one of his novels in disgust Another friend sitting next to me said she didn t like Hotel Honolulu too sexist I can understand this feeling about Theroux He often writes about the misguided American abroad in his novels his most famous being the Mosuito Coast His characters often have high hopes and dreams and then we Hidden Boundaries get to see them dashed again and again Even his non fiction travel writing can seem bleak He usually travels in the Third World on trains for the most part and in my mind I always picture Paul Theroux sitting in a dusty depot somewhere waiting and waiting Butetting back to his latest novel about a misguided American In the first few pages the hero Hock receives a new cell phone and it is this piece of modern technology that ends his marriage in the first two pages Hock as he reflects on his life realizes that his happiest memories were those he spent in an African village making a difference by building wells and a school Hock decides to light out telling no one and returns to the village And of course since the author is Theroux you can never o back The village has disintegrated further the school is closed and in ruins and the happiness he saw there because of a revolution has turned to despair and there is menace in the air Hock makes than one foolish decision and before he knows it he is trapped in the village unable to leave I liked the book the opening was written by a master of story Theroux lays a heavy hand with a treatise on poverty and the culture of aid he in part is reflecting on his own time spent in Africa as a youth and his eventual return The use of Snakes in the book as a theme is used a bit much Warning Snakes everywhere in this book I was compelled to keep reading to find out what happens to Hock I found the book to be very satisfyin. Ember him the White Man with no fear of snakes and welcome him But is his new life his journey back an escape or a trap Interweaving memory and desire hope and despair salvation and damnation this is a hypnotic compelling and brilliant return to a terrain no one has ever written better about than Therou. ,
Ation similarHock leaves untimely but forty years later Malawi now independent does not correspond to the dream kept in his memory In Malabo there is nothing left of the school and the hospital the inhabitants live off the record in a fatal lethargy and the white is no longer welcome unless his pockets lined with money Those he had admired for his audacity and simplicity are now thieves interested only in brutal consumerism malaria joined by AIDS and wars followed by banditry actions Little by little Ellis paralyzed hostage to a situation he does not control uietly stripped of assets of physical and mental health In comparison he was slipping into a dramatic incapacity that refers to the protagonist of Evelyn Waugh in Handful of Dust that English with the suggestive name of Tony Last who ends up in the jungle defenceless in the hands of an older man who forces him to read Dickens works aloud But if Last is a victim of someone else the situation that Hock reaches is only a conseuence of his conception of Africa and its inhabitants built around wrong assumptions and distorted by his idealism While the adventures that feed his nightmare unfold Festus Manyenga the soba and the inhabitants of the surrounding area are increasingly demanding Hock tries to escape but ends up trapped in an even frightening situation A comparison with Joseph Conrad and fateful journey by Kurtz on the Congo River Both Conrad and Theroux based on their own experiences crossing fiction with autobiographical data but while the first wrote Heart of Darkness as an anti imperialist manifesto After witnessing with significant repudiation the cruelty and corruption that prevailed in the colonies the other view is ambiguous and if possible even bleaker A white man out of his element and trying to et back to the world he knows is a theme running through Paul Theroux s stunning novel THE LOWER RIVER I loved the characters locales and sheer desperation as the book wore on Reminiscent of Graham Joyce s SMOKING POPPY I found this story extraordinary Paul Theroux s recent novel THE LOWER RIVER follows sixty something year old Ellis Hock back to Africa to connect with a time forty years ago the happiest years of his life when he was a Peace Corps Volunteer and teacher in a remote village in Malawi On and off he has been dreaming about that time and place returning to it in his mind when wandering through his hometown zoo his memories flooding back with a strong sense of nostalgic longing Now that his marriage has fallen apart his business is in decline he sells all and almost secretly embarks on a return visit to the village of his dreams Malabo Most of the novel follows Hock s arrival and time in Malawi and in his remote village Malawians and expats warn him nobody Gods Callgirl goes there or abandon all hope Yet it is exactly what Hock is seeking a place not touched by development a village that has stood still frozen in time and that would welcome him as it did all those years agoLooking at the highly appreciative and admiring reviews of the novel I realize that I may be in a small minority to regard this book mostly as a fictionalized version of chpaters from Theroux s travel book Dark Star Safari Overland from Cairo to Capetown where he describes his return to a remote region of Malawi that looks and feels very much like Malabo Not surprisingly the novel draws on the author s personal experiences both as a traveler in the early twenty first century and as a Peace Corps volunteer there in his younger years These close ties to physical realities increased by the detailed descriptions of places and landscapes make it difficult for this reader to conceive THE LOWER RIVER as a work of fiction alone I am not fully willing to accept the authenticity of the narrative or the characters in particular the Africans While the story is told from Hock s perspective alone the reader does notet a real sense of life in the community and beyond nor how the situation in the village deteriorated the way it did Blame is touched on but only superficially almost in caricature style Life beyond Hock s hut and his early morning walks are hazy background the conditions in the villages only described as they affect Hock directly The African characters don t come into their own they are like stereotypes for particular attitudes the men and boys Forever I'm Yours greedy aggressive and devious the women young and old subservient and uiet Seeing everything through his romantic lens of a time long past where innocence and love was front and centre on his mind Hock does not appear to make much effort to learn about Malabo s present circumstances or to understand what lies behind the hostile attitude of the community The reader is in the role of an intimate observer of Hock s daily routines his many frustrations and a fewlimmers of hope They can instil sympathy and compassion but as the narrative speed slows to a crawl and repetition likely turn and to irritation Hock comes across as somebody totally unprepared for his venture or as one reviewer refers to as a typical *Innocent American AbroadWhile The Reader * American abroadWhile the reader in reat detail the ups and downs of Hock physical and mental state I for one missed a discriminating portrayal of the village its people and its challenges The African characters are not fully developed and remain two *Dimensional Malabo Has Been *Malabo has been to a state of paralysis due to the villagers lethargy caused by poverty malnutrition the spread of AIDS and a eneral lack of initiative The village strong man Manyenga acts towards Hock both as a friend and an enemy In response Hock turns increasingly passive not really understanding or accepting what has happened to his village Is it possible for him to move beyond his longing for this world that no longer existsInfluenced by my own experiences and background I was not always willing to suspend disbelief in details of this story starting with Hock s lack of the proper anti malarial protection to his handling of his personal effects Speaking the local language does not always make for ood communication and Hock exemplifies this aptly While the name Malabo may have been a fictional name for the village the novel is set clearly against the backdrop of the actual country and towns with real people with diverse beliefs and behaviours Their lives in today s world are much complex than is depicted here A pilgrimage usually brings to mind young college rads or drop outs backpacking and seeking to find who I really am or the forty something just divorced and tired of the rat race individual plagued with ennui or provoked by accumulated reproaches Or is it the pilgrimage to Mecca or Delphi It does suggest a spiritual journey a life defining soul searching odysseyIn Theroux s latest novel sixty two year old businessman Ellis Hock embarks on a pilgrimage Scorned by his wife and spurned by his daughter he decides to sell his men s clothing business in Medford Massachusetts leave his home of almost forty years and return to the lower river in the country of Malawi in a remote bush town called Malabo Ellis romanticizes this African village that he spent four Peace Corps years as a teacher in after college and resolves he can Renoir go back and return to the happiest years of his life living in a mud hut with a thatched roof and commingling with the natives And so begins the expedition of Ellis Hock to the southernmost part of a southern province home of the Sena people in a land of few clothes and elaborate dance rituals He is White Man and Mwamuna wa Njoka Snake Man Ellis was known during his Peace Corps years for his deft handling and collection of black mambasreen mambas puff adders spitting cobras the swimming sun snake the egg eating wolf snake the boomslang mbobo and the nsato or rock python Hock had a knack and a confidence to overn these scaly reptiles Ellis was also recognized for building a school and initiating plans for a medical clinic and paved roads He regarded himself as a savior of sorts the benefactor of a poverty stricken village But did he know himself then and the people he lived with and taught He is confident that he will be received with open arms on his return that His Goodwill And Proprietary Feelings About The Region About Africa goodwill and proprietary feelings about the region about Africa be recognized and embracedThe novel of Ellis return to Malobo is full of surprises Be prepared for an unorthodox narrative unvarnished and bold stripped of the political correct approach of progressives and alms ivers including the well meaning philanthropists who patronize the less fortunate who are ignorant of their own contribution to apathy and Nightwing: On the Razor's Edge greed unenlightened because of their phlegmatic sense of charity that these uneducated indigent people are not much different from you or me at the core You will peer inside the militaristic supply depots necessitated by doooder celebrities who spread their money and smiles and food drops without having a clue about the complex nature of the regional customs and hierarchiesOther works that have influenced this book have been mentioned in many reviews such as Conrad s HEART OF DARKNESS and Graham Green s THE HEART OF THE MATTER Theroux s chronicled travelogue through Africa DARK STAR SAFARI reflects many of the themes in this story of return and a desire to redeem lost youth There is also a vivid allusion to William Golding s E family home he realizes that there is one place for him to Bakunin: The Creative Passion go back to Malawi on the remote Lower River where he can be happy again Arriving at the dusty village he finds it transformed the school he built is a ruin the church and clinic areone and poverty and apathy have set in among the people They rem.