The premise, retrace his route from his travel narrative that shot him to fame with his Great Railway Bazaar. It was a book published in 1975 recounting his railway journey from London to Asia, Japan and Back through the Trans-Siberian express. 30 years later, around 2005, Paul Theroux, now much mature, relived the journey which resulted to the book Ghost Train to the Eastern Star.
I have never read his Great Railway Bazaar but I found it wasn’t a problem with this book as we would give glimpses on what it’s like on his first journey. In fact each chapter can stand alone, like if you want to read a portion on Japan or Vietnam, it would not be a problem.
But take heed this is not a guide but more of a personal account and he does it with exceptional writing. He’s a keen observer and touches a lot on the social and the political state of a country. His narrative is fluid and emotional at times but can be brash and egotistic as well. But one thing is for sure, he is a very good writer even if I sometimes don’t really agree with his views.
What I really enjoyed is portions where he met up with different authors I also enjoy reading like Haruki Murakami and Pico Iyer in Japan or Isaac Asimov in Sri Lanka. I’m glad to read about these authors for a change and to have them traveling together in one book was exciting. It also gave me an idea of how the mind of a travel writer likes Theroux works, learning about his method on recording while he travels.