Reviewed by More than fifty years of this, ever the fortunate traveler.”“Yes, I was lucky—incredibly so. --Provided by publisher.
I was especially eager to read this book since I’ve made the journey through Mexico several times with my wife in a car (VW bug) and a pickup truck, so I was familiar with some of the challenges and dangers, not to mention adventures the author would encounter.The “Godfather of Travel Writing” follows his own critique for what makes a superior travel book, “not just a report of a journey, but a memoir, an autobiography, a confession, a foray in South America, a topography and history, a travel narrative, with observations of books, music, and life in general; in short, what the best travel books are, a summing up.”This book includes countless memorable descriptions of Mexico’s landscapes and insight into the country’s history, as well as literary, including Mexican magical realism and political movements such as the Zapatistas.A book on immigrations and the border is especially timely during this period of misinformation and distrust created by the present crisis. As the cult had grown in popularity, so government disapproval increased. An F.B.I. We had finally found the magic land at the end of the road and we never dreamed the extent of the magic.”Although the majority of Theroux’s Mexican journey was in rural areas, he did spend ten days in Mexico City with 13 million inhabitants and all the chaos and police shakedowns which that entails. Mr. Theroux attends a meeting, or For Mr. Theroux, the possibility of coming back to Chiapas in the future, at least by car, seems remote—after the age of 76, he explains, drivers in Mexico must pass an eye test every two years (Mr. Theroux is now 78). He is smitten by his students’ intelligence and generosity, as well as by their willingness to share in his adventure.
In the last half of the book, he travels to Oaxaca and Chiapas to observe the lives and villages of the people who make the long dangePaul Theroux, the celebrated travel writer, drives the length of the US/Mexican border, going back and forth between the two countries, to observe and document the impact of NAFTA, the "mafia" (how Mexicans refer to the cartels according to Theroux) and illegal immigration on the lives of ordinary Mexicans.
It's a look at a different place and people who are almost hard to imagine. With the confidence that Mexico’s respect for people of retirement age would ferry him safely through the dangers hinted at by the state department, Paul Theroux set out to drive across Mexico, a trip recorded in Following the border first, Theroux dips into Mexico at the height of the monarch migration: “For miles the rabble of butterflies batted along the road to Monterrey … borne by the soft air and the sunlight.” He records sunburned hills, high deserts, and hardworking people dreaming of more. “She was Zapotec, from a mountain village in Oaxaca State, who had left her three young children with her mother, intending to enter the United States and (so she said) become a menial in a hotel somewhere and send money back to her poor family.
Nogales is a border town caught between Mexico and the United States of America. Published
Next time I’ll try Matamoros. Paul Theroux’s On the Plain of Snakes reminds one of his last major travel work Deep South. But there is something to "On the Plain of Snakes" that is timely and checks the unforgiving cruelty that is everywhere in the culture of today.
Mexico contains multitudes.Paul Theroux began his motor trip by weaving back and forth on the US - Mexican border. Theroux starts out in early 2017 by driving all 2,000 miles of the border between San Ysidro, Calif. (just south of San Diego) and Brownsville, Texas (near the mouth of the Rio Grande), looping back and forth between Mexico and the United States as if stitching the two countries together with his automobile.
Mexico contains multitudes.This is a heart-rending travelogue on Mexico. Paul Theroux began his motor trip by weaving back and forth on the US - Mexican border. Lucky in the people I met, lucky in the friends I made, lucky even in my mishaps, my always emerging unharmed, with a tale to tell. So far from God, so close to the United States.” But if for Díaz the threat was Yankee imperialism, now it is the ravenous appetite of Americans for illegal drugs, on which they spend more than $100 billion per year, fueling so much of the cartel-driven violence.Then, like a swimmer who has tested the waters, Mr. Theroux dives into Mexico.
Books, music, educational TV shows, movies—it’s all for them.” Youth have become ‘empowered by their spending, and that’s created a kind of contempt for older Americans.”The author reveals that this feeling of rejection made it easy to identify with migrants and Mexicans, “who knew that same feeling of being despised.” As befits this obstinate traveler and author, his response was, “My work is my reply, my travel is my defiance.
He then drives to Mexico City to lead a writing seminar.
They really love their towns on both sides. On the outskirts of Mexico City, Mr. Theroux is extorted by a corrupt police officer—the bane of Mexicans and foreign visitors alike—who shakes him down for all the pesos and dollars in his wallet. The overwhelming question I had when reading ON THE PLAIN OF SNAKES was “Why does this book exist?” Enjoyable at times, it appears to possess a motivation most meaningful to its author. Paul Theroux presents multiple views and a large variety of people from this intriguing country. Start by marking “On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey” as Want to Read: He held me and said, ‘Welcome’.” As they departed, he shook hands with the other key leaders, “They were not the hands of commissars or bureaucrats.
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