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    paul theroux Quotes

    Luxury is the enemy of observation, a costly indulgence that induces such a good feeling that you notice nothing. Luxury spoils and infantilizes you and prevents you from knowing the world.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: enemies  world  knowing  enemy 
     
    I'm not pessimistic about Africa. The cities just seem big and hopeless. But there's still a great green heart where there's possibility. There's hope in the wilderness.
    — Paul Theroux
    Unless there is a strong sense of place there is no travel writing, but it need not come from topographical description; dialogue can also convey a sense of place. Even so, I insist, the traveler invents the place. Feeling compelled to comment on my travel books, people say to me, "I went there"--China, India, the Pacific, Albania- "and it wasn't like that." I say, "Because I am not you.
    — Paul Theroux
    The worst thing that can happen to you in travel is having a gun pointed at you by a very young person. That's happened to me maybe four times in my life. I didn't like it.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: time  travel  people  young 
     
    A national crisis, a political convulsion, is an opportunity, a gift to the traveler. Nothing is more revealing of a place to a stranger than trouble. Even if a crisis is incomprehensible, as it usually is, it lends drama to the day and transforms the traveler into an eye witness.
    — Paul Theroux
    The difference between travel writing as fiction is the difference between recording what the eye sees and discovering what the imagination knows. Fiction is pure joy - how sad that I could not reinvent the trip as fiction.
    — Paul Theroux
    An island is a fixed and finite piece of geography, and usually the whole place has been carved up and claimed.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: geography 
     
    I always found myself in the company of Australians, who were like a reminder that I'd touched bottom.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: company 
     
    A foreign swear-word is practically inoffensive except to the person who has learnt it early in life and knows its social limits.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: people 
     
    The wish to disappear sends many travelers away. If you are thoroughly sick of being kept waiting at home or at work, travel is perfect: let other people wait for a change. Travel is a sort of revenge for having been put on hold, or having to leave messages on answering machines, not knowing your party's extension, being kept waiting all your working life - the homebound writer's irritants. But also being kept waiting is the human conditon.
    — Paul Theroux
    When I was in the Peace Corps I never made a phone call. I was in Central Africa; I didn't make a phone call for two years. I was in Uganda for another four years and I didn't make a phone call. So for six years I didn't make a phone call, but I wrote letters, I wrote short stories, I wrote books.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: peace  stories  book  year 
     
    All travel is circular. I had been jerked through Asia, making a parabola on one of the planet's hemispheres. After all, the grand tour is just the inspired man's way of heading home.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: travel 
     
    The traveler's boast, sometimes couched as a complaint, is that of having been an eyewitness, and invariably this experience - shocking though it may seem at the time - is an enrichment, even a blessing, one of the life-altering trophies of the road.
    — Paul Theroux
    The Colombians are good-tempered people. They are used to waiting for buses that are late, used to riding buses and trains that do not arrive.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: people 
     
    There is no faster way of destroying a man, or mocking his ideas, than making him fashionable.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: men  ideas 
     
    ...a society without jaywalkers might indicate a society without artists.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: society  artist 
     
    People write about getting sick, they write about tummy trouble, they write about having to wait for a bus. They write about waiting. They write three pages about how long it took them to get a visa. I'm not interested in the boring parts. Everyone has tummy trouble. Everyone waits in line. I don't want to hear about it.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: people  write 
     
    Many aspects of the writing life have changed since I published my first book, in the 1960s. It is more corporate, more driven by profits and marketing, and generally less congenial - but my day is the same: get out of bed, procrastinate, sit down at my desk, try to write something.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: writing  book  write  marketing 
     
    Literary life used to be quite different in Britain in the years I lived there, from 1971 to 1989, because money was not a factor - no one made very much except from U.S. sales and the occasional windfall.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: money  year 
     
    I can't predict how reading habits will change. But I will say that the greatest loss is the paper archive - no more a great stack of manuscripts, letters, and notebooks from a writer's life, but only a tiny pile of disks, little plastic cookies where once were calligraphic marvels.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: loss  reading 
     
    Fiction writing, and the reading of it, and book buying, have always been the activities of a tiny minority of people, even in the most-literate societies.
    — Paul Theroux
    A travel book is about someone who goes somewhere, travels on the ground, sees something and spends quite a lot of time doing it, and has a hard time, and then comes back and writes about it. It's not about inventing.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: time  travel  book  write 
     
    I think I understand passion. Love is something else.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: passion 
     
    Animal lovers often tend to be misanthropes or loners, and so they transfer their affection to the creature in their control.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: animals  control  lover 
     
    Fogeydom is the last bastion of the bore and reminiscence is its anthem. It is futile to want the old days back, but that doesn't mean one should ignore the lessons of the visitable past.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: lessons  past 
     
    It's not fashionable but I like to spit out of the window of a moving train.
    — Paul Theroux
    A gun show is about like-minded people who feel as if everything has been taken away from them - jobs, money, pride.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: people  job  money  pride 
     
    Pain does not create a long-lasting memory, but the memory of luxury exerts itself for ever.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: pain  memory 
     
    Someone who seems doddery is perhaps not doddery at all but only an older person absorbed in squinting concentration, as though on an ultimate trip, memorizing a scene, grateful for being alive to see it.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: people 
     
    You can't want to be a writer. You have to be one.
    — Paul Theroux
    There's always a way if you're not in a hurry.
    — Paul Theroux
    One of the cardinal principles of Buddhism, the principle of neglect.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: buddhism  neglect 
     
    In Turkey it was always 1952, in Malaysia 1937; Afghanistan was 1910 and Bolivia 1949. It is 20 years ago in the Soviet Union, 10 in Norway, five in France. It is always last year in Australia and next week in Japan.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: year 
     
    Bogotá seemed a cruel towering place, like an eagles' nest now inhabited by vultures and their dying prey.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: dying 
     
    And that is all anyone can do, try to be honest about what he feels, what he's seen or thinks he's seen.
    — Paul Theroux
    It might be said that a great unstated reason for travel is to find places that exemplify where one has been happiest. Looking for idealised versions of home-indeed, looking for the perfect memory.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: travel  memory 
     
    Is there any point in going across the world to eat something or buy something or watch people squatting among their ruins? Travel is a state of mind. It has nothing to do with distance or the exotic. It is almost entirely an inner experience.
    — Paul Theroux
    The greatest justification for travel is not self-improvement but rather performing a vanishing act, disappearing without a trace.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: travel 
     
    Nothing to me is so erotic as a hotel room, and therefore so penetrated with life and death.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: death  erotic 
     
    Men in their late 50s often make very bad decisions.
    — Paul Theroux
    tags: men  decision  bad 
     
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