By Paul Theroux
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618418862, 448pp.
Publication Date: June 1, 2005
Slade Steadman's lone opus, published twenty years ago, was Trespassing, a cult classic about his travels through dozens of countries without benefit of passport. With his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend Ava in tow, Steadman sets out for Ecuador’s jungle in search of a rare hallucinogenic drug and the cure for his writer’s block. Amid a gang of thrill-seeking tourists, he finds his drug and his inspiration but is beset with an unnerving side effectperiodic blindness. His world is altered profoundly: Ava stays by his side, he writes an erotic, autobiographical novel with the drug serving as muse, and he returns to stardom.
Steadman becomes addicted to the drug and the insights it provides, only to have them desert him, along with his sight. Will he regain his vision? His visions? Or will he forgo the world of his imagining and his ambition?
As Theroux leads us toward the answers, he makes fresh magic out of the venerable intertwined themes of sight and insight. He also offers incisive, sometimes hilarious takes on the manifold ironies of travel, of trespass and trangession, and of the trappings of the writer’s lifefrom the fear of the blank page to the unexpected challenges of the book tour.