Deep South Four seasons on back roads

Paul Theroux

Book - 2015

"One of the most acclaimed travel writers of our time turns his unflinching eye on an American South too often overlooked. Paul Theroux has spent fifty years crossing the globe, adventuring in the exotic, seeking the rich history and folklore of the far away. Now, for the first time, in his tenth travel book, Theroux explores a piece of America--the Deep South. He finds there a paradoxical place, full of incomparable music, unparalleled cuisine, and yet also some of the nation's worst ...schools, housing, and unemployment rates. It's these parts of the South, so often ignored, that have caught Theroux's keen traveler's eye. On road trips spanning four seasons, wending along rural highways, Theroux visits gun shows and small-town churches, laborers in Arkansas, and parts of Mississippi where they still call the farm up the road 'the plantation.' He talks to mayors and social workers, writers and reverends, the working poor and farming families--the unsung heroes of the South, the people who, despite it all, never left, and also those who returned home to rebuild a place they could never live without. From the writer whose 'great mission has always been to transport us beyond that reading chair, to challenge himself--and thus, to challenge us' (Boston Globe), Deep South is an ode to a region, vivid and haunting, full of life and loss alike"--

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Subjects
Published
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015.
©2015
Language
English
Item Description
"An Eamon Dolan book."
"Photos by Steve McCurry"-- Book jacket.
Physical Description
441 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780544323520
0544323521
Main Author
Paul Theroux (author)
  • Fall : "You gotta be going there to get there"
  • Interlude : the taboo word
  • Winter : "Ones born today don't know how it was"
  • Interlude : the paradoxes of Faulkner
  • Spring : redbud in bloom
  • Interlude : the fantastications of Southern fiction
  • Summer : the odor of sun-heated roads.
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* The idea that Theroux is one of the preeminent travel writers today needs neither proof nor explanation at this point in his distinguished career, but just in case some doubters do exist out there and raise their voices in objection to such an accolade, his latest travel memoir should quiet even the strongest of reservations. On several trips through the American South, a place Theroux admits he was unfamiliar with and thus knew little about, and as he eschewed visits to major cities and tourist attractions, choosing instead country roads (obviously also avoiding planes and airports), his experiences reinforced his conviction that the truest way to travel is the "old" way, "the proud highway, the rolling road." His intended "interviewees," the people he wanted to talk to and learn from about the nature of being a southerner, were the "underclass." Who best would know what distinctive southern life was like than the "submerged twenty percent." Contradictions abound in the South he explored, but just as those conflicts were the enticement for his repeated visits, they also represent the allure of this rigorous, poised, serious, and pulsing-with-life exploration of all aspects of the multisided American South. High-Demand Backstory: Theroux's books always appear on the best-seller list, and his latest may prove to be his most popular book yet. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

For 50 years, Theroux has famously reported on his travels to far-flung places from Kuala Lumpur to the Caucasus, but until now he's never written a travel book on America. Here's his take on motoring through the Deep South, visiting gun shows, little churches, and parts of Mississippi where some farms are still called plantations. For better or worse, he realizes, the past is still there. [Page 61]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Theroux's (The Mosquito Coast; Ghost Train on the Eastern Star) title takes us on a trip to a part of the South few seek out. He avoids big cities such as Atlanta and New Orleans and heads to the Deep South: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, and South Carolina. The author visits, several times in some cases, a number of the poorest cities and communities in the nation. The result is a socially conscious travelog, with a good deal of Southern history thrown in, including literature, race relations, and economics. Theroux writes of the people he meets with sympathy and verve, and though many seem to fit Southern stereotypes, they still come across as genuine on the page. It's the people of the Deep South—from the frat boys and Southern preachers to African American farmers and local officials—working to save their small towns who bring this book to life. VERDICT A literary travelog that will interest readers of Southern history and literature and anyone with an interest in American urban history and the plight of the poor. [See Prepub Alert, 3/30/15.]—Sara Miller Rohan, Archive Librarian, Atlanta [Page 104]. (c) Copyright 2015 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Travel writer Theroux (Ghost Train to the Eastern Star) finds the traveling easier and his insights more penetrating in this engrossing passage through the South. Celebrating the wonders of American driving—no more rattle-trap trains or jam-packed buses—the New England native recounts several road trips from South Carolina through Arkansas, circling back to revisit places and people in a way he couldn't on his treks across foreign continents. His relaxed schedule lets him forget the journey and, instead, immerse himself in destinations that seem both familiar and strange ("Jesus is lord—we buy and sell guns," reads a billboard). Avoiding tourist traps, Theroux seeks out gun shows, church services, seedy motels, and downscale diners such as Doe's Eat Place, in Greenville, Miss.; he insistently probes the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, and the appalling poverty of back-road towns abandoned by industry. All this emerges through vivid, novelistic reportage as he gently prods people for their stories, reveling in their musical dialects, mapping the intersections of personal experience and tragic history that give the South "a great overwhelming sadness that couldn't fathom." Free of the sense of alienation that marked his recent travelogues, this luminous sojourn is Theroux's best outing in years. Color photos. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"One of the most acclaimed travel writers of our time turns his unflinching eye on an American South too often overlooked. Paul Theroux has spent fifty years crossing the globe, adventuring in the exotic, seeking the rich history and folklore of the far away. Now, for the first time, in his tenth travel book, Theroux explores a piece of America--the Deep South. He finds there a paradoxical place, full of incomparable music, unparalleled cuisine, and yet also some of the nation's worst schools, housing, and unemployment rates. It's these parts of the South, so often ignored, that have caught Theroux's keen traveler's eye. On road trips spanning four seasons, wending along rural highways, Theroux visits gun shows and small-town churches, laborers in Arkansas, and parts of Mississippi where they still call the farm up the road 'the plantation.' He talks to mayors and social workers, writers and reverends, the working poor and farming families--the unsung heroes of the south, the people who, despite it all, never left, and also those who returned home to rebuild a place they could never live without. From the writer whose 'great mission has always been to transport us beyond that reading chair, to challenge himself--and thus, to challenge us' (Boston Globe),Deep South is an ode to a region, vivid and haunting, full of life and loss alike"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The acclaimed author of Ghost Train to the Eastern Star explores the paradoxes and culture of America's deep south, describing his four-season rural travels to its churches, eateries, farms, gun shows and offices. 50,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

The acclaimed travel writer explores the paradoxes and culture of America's Deep South, describing his four-season rural travels to its churches, eateries, farms, gun shows, and offices.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

One of the most acclaimed travel writers of our time turns his unflinching eye on an American South too often overlooked.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

One of the most acclaimed travel writers of our time turns his unflinching eye on an American South too often overlooked Paul Theroux has spent fifty years crossing the globe, adventuring in the exotic, seeking the rich history and folklore of the far away. Now, for the first time, in his tenth travel book, Theroux explores a piece of America — the Deep South. He finds there a paradoxical place, full of incomparable music, unparalleled cuisine, and yet also some of the nation’s worst schools, housing, and unemployment rates. It’s these parts of the South, so often ignored, that have caught Theroux’s keen traveler’s eye.  On road trips spanning four seasons, wending along rural highways, Theroux visits gun shows and small-town churches, laborers in Arkansas, and parts of Mississippi where they still call the farm up the road “the plantation.” He talks to mayors and social workers, writers and reverends, the working poor and farming families — the unsung heroes of the south, the people who, despite it all, never left, and also those who returned home to rebuild a place they could never live without.  From the writer whose “great mission has always been to transport us beyond that reading chair, to challenge himself — and thus, to challenge us” (Boston Globe), Deep South is an ode to a region, vivid and haunting, full of life and loss alike.

Review by Publisher Summary 6

One of the most acclaimed travel writers of our time turns his unflinching eye on an American South too often overlooked Paul Theroux has spent fifty years crossing the globe, adventuring in the exotic, seeking the rich history and folklore of the far away. Now, for the first time, in his tenth travel book, Theroux explores a piece of America ' the Deep South. He finds there a paradoxical place, full of incomparable music, unparalleled cuisine, and yet also some of the nation's worst schools, housing, and unemployment rates. It's these parts of the South, so often ignored, that have caught Theroux's keen traveler's eye.  On road trips spanning four seasons, wending along rural highways, Theroux visits gun shows and small-town churches, laborers in Arkansas, and parts of Mississippi where they still call the farm up the road 'the plantation.' He talks to mayors and social workers, writers and reverends, the working poor and farming families ' the unsung heroes of the south, the people who, despite it all, never left, and also those who returned home to rebuild a place they could never live without.  From the writer whose 'great mission has always been to transport us beyond that reading chair, to challenge himself ' and thus, to challenge us' (Boston Globe), Deep South is an ode to a region, vivid and haunting, full of life and loss alike.