“I seldom feel uplifted in a city; on the contrary, I feel oppressed and confined. In my travels I have been more interested in the places that lay between the great cities than the cities themselves: the hinterlands, not the capital. It is my suspicion that people who are glamoured by big cities and think of themselves as urbane and thoroughly metropolitan are at heart country mice – simple, fearful, overdomesticated provincials, dazzled by city lights.”

Paul Theroux, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, 20



“The decision to return to any early scene in your life is dangerous but irresistible, not as a search for lost time but for the grotesquerie of what happened since. In most cases it is like meeting an old lover years later and hardly recognizing the object of desire in this pinched and bruised old fruit. We all live with fantasies of transformation. Live long enough and you see them enacted – the young made old, the road improved, houses where there were once fields; and their opposites, a good school turned into ruin, a river poisoned, a pond shrunk and filled with trash, and dismal reports: “He’s dead,” “He’s in jail,” “You can’t go there anymore.”

Paul Theroux, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, 20