Figures in a Landscape (Hardcover)
People and Places
Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780544870307, 416pp.
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Other Editions of This Title:
In the spirit of his much-loved Sunrise with Seamonsters and Fresh Air Fiend, Paul Theroux’s latest collection of essays leads the reader through a dazzling array of sights, characters, and experiences, as Theroux applies his signature searching curiosity to a life lived as much in reading as on the road. This writerly tour-de-force features a satisfyingly varied selection of topics that showcase Theroux’s sheer versatility as a writer. Travel essays take us to Ecuador, Zimbabwe, and Hawaii, to name a few. Gems of literary criticism reveal fascinating depth in the work of Henry David Thoreau, Graham Greene, Joseph Conrad, and Hunter Thompson. And in a series of breathtakingly personal profiles, we take a helicopter ride with Elizabeth Taylor, go surfing with Oliver Sacks, eavesdrop on the day-to-day life of a Manhattan dominatrix, and explore New York with Robin Williams.
An extended mediation on the craft of writing binds together this wide-ranging collection, along with Theroux’s constant quest for the authentic in a person or in a place.
About the Author
Praise For Figures in a Landscape: People and Places…
"Novelist and travel writer Theroux is at the top of his game with his third collection of essays, a magisterial grouping of intimate remembrances, globe-trotting adventures, and incisive literary critiques...A highly versatile, appealing writer, Theroux casts a wide net with pleasing and entertaining results."—Publishers Weekly, **Starred Review**
“[Theroux’s] stories are less travelogues than well-curated meditations on some of the places, people, and moments he has experienced in a lifetime of rambles… His spare, unhurried prose style, which is rarely long-winded, betrays a novelist's relish for illuminating details and devastating turns of phrase… A masterfully simple and satisfying collection.”—Kirkus
"Those who’ve missed these 30 pieces where previously published will be impressed by the breadth of his interests, the depth of his research, and the scrupulousness of his prose. A profile of Elizabeth Taylor...works a miracle, allowing us to view the icon with unjaded eyes. A lengthy profile of a dominatrix...offers genuine insight into both spanker and spanked. Appreciations of Conrad, Greene, Maugham, and Simenon show how book introductions ought to be done. And the closing, more personal pieces...add emotional heft and shape to this wide-ranging, thought-provoking, and eminently browsable collection."—Booklist
"Theroux's observations are so keen and writerly skills so sharp that he butter-slices narratives with a razor-thin surgeon's scalpel, masterfully serving up both the world's dark underbelly and its gloriously uplifting sustenance of love, longing and wonder-lust." —Forbes
"In short, there is something for everyone. [...] His talky, big-hearted book will make a heavenly companion at the beach." —Honolulu Star Advertiser
"His new collection of essays, like its illustrious author, is full of surprises."— Forbes.com