Cover image for Dark star safari [overland from Cairo to Cape Town]
Title:
Dark star safari [overland from Cairo to Cape Town]
Author:
Theroux, Paul.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Rothley, Leics. [Leicestershire, England] : W.F. Howes ; Prince Frederick, MD : distributed by Recorded Books, [2003]

℗2003
Physical Description:
19 audio discs (23 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Subtitle from container.

Unabridged.
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
ISBN:
9781402572838
Format :
Audiobook on CD

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DT12.25 .T48 2003C Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
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Summary

Summary

Dark Star Safari


Author Notes

Paul Edward Theroux was born on April 10, 1941 in Medford, Massachusetts and is an acclaimed travel writer. After attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst he joined the Peace Corps and taught in Malawi from 1963 to 1965. He also taught in Uganda at Makerere University and in Singapore at the University of Singapore.

Although Theroux has also written travel books in general and about various modes of transport, his name is synonymous with the literature of train travel. Theroux's 1975 best-seller, The Great Railway Bazaar, takes the reader through Asia, while his second book about train travel, The Old Patagonian Express (1979), describes his trip from Boston to the tip of South America. His third contribution to the railway travel genre, Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China, won the Thomas Cook Prize for best literary travel book in 1989. His literary output also includes novels, books for children, short stories, articles, and poetry. His novels include Picture Palace (1978), which won the Whitbread Award and The Mosquito Coast (1981), which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Theroux is a fellow of both the British Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Geographic Society. His title Lower River made The New York Times Best Seller List for 2012. Currently his 2015 book, Deep South , is a bestseller.

(Bowker Author Biography) Paul Theroux is the distinguished author of numerous award-winning books, including "The Mosquito Coast," "Kowloon Tong," & "Half Moon Street."

(Publisher Provided)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Theroux returns to East Africa--he taught in Uganda and Malawi in the 1960s--both because he wants to see if there is hope behind the horrific headlines and because he wants to drop off the map for a while. He discovers that in Ethiopia the ivory trade is alive and well; in Uganda, Makerere University still hasn't recovered from the despotism of Idi Amin; and in Zimbabwe, absurd land seizures continue unabated. The countries are poorer than he last saw them, while beset by the same intractable problems of corruption and violence. Most men he meets have spent time in prison. Besides frequent rumination on what it means to be a traveler, readers know they can expect a stimulating exploration of history, geography, politics, and society from Theroux, an intellectual with dirty fingernails who's expert at getting the first-person story. He can be caustic toward less-enlightened travelers who want simply to enjoy themselves, and to aid workers, whom he sees as universally self-serving. It's a shame that someone who strives so mightily to understand Africans can be so dismissive of his own people. A traveler who sympathizes with the downtrodden would do well to remember his own privileges of time, money, and education. Nonetheless, his book contains page after page of eye-opening and insightful observations. And for those of us who might squander our two weeks off on a predictable cruise, Theroux's vantage point from the dusty road is very useful indeed. --Keir Graff


Publisher's Weekly Review

"You'll have a terrible time," one diplomat tells Theroux upon discovering the prolific writer's plans to hitch a ride hundreds of miles along a desolate road to Nairobi instead of taking a plane. "You'll have some great stuff for your book." That seems to be the strategy for Theroux's extended "experience of vanishing" into the African continent, where disparate incidents reveal Theroux as well as the people he meets. At times, he goes out of his way to satisfy some perverse curmudgeonly desire to pick theological disputes with Christian missionaries. But his encounters with the natives, aid workers and occasional tourists make for rollicking entertainment, even as they offer a sobering look at the social and political chaos in which much of Africa finds itself. Theroux occasionally strays into theorizing about the underlying causes for the conditions he finds, but his cogent insights are well integrated. He doesn't shy away from the literary aspects of his tale, either, frequently invoking Conrad and Rimbaud, and dropping in at the homes of Naguib Mahfouz and Nadine Gordimer at the beginning and end of his trip. He also returns to many of the places where he lived and worked as a Peace Corps volunteer and teacher in the 1960s, locations that have cropped up in earlier novels. These visits fuel the book's ongoing obsession with his approaching 60th birthday and his insistence that he isn't old yet. As a travel guide, Theroux can both rankle and beguile, but after reading this marvelous report, readers will probably agree with the priest who observes, "Wonderful people. Terrible government. The African story." (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Theroux groans his way through Africa; the first single trip since The Pillars of Hercules. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

1 Lighting Out All news out of Africa is bad. It made me want to go there, though not for the horror, the hot spots, the massacre-and-earthquake stories you read in the newspaper; I wanted the pleasure of being in Africa again. Feeling that the place was so large it contained many untold tales and some hope and comedy and sweetness, too -- feeling that there was more to Africa than misery and terror -- I aimed to reinsert myself in the bundu, as we used to call the bush, and to wander the antique hinterland. There I had lived and worked, happily, almost forty years ago, in the heart of the greenest continent. To skip ahead, I am writing this a year later, just back from Africa, having taken my long safari and been reminded that all travel is a lesson in self-preservation. I was mistaken in so much -- delayed, shot at, howled at, and robbed. No massacres or earthquakes, but terrific heat and the roads were terrible, the trains were derelict, forget the telephones. Exasperated white farmers said, "It all went tits-up!" Africa is materially more decrepit than it was when I first knew it -- hungrier, poorer, less educated, more pessimistic, more corrupt, and you can't tell the politicians from the witch doctors. Africans, less esteemed than ever, seemed to me the most lied-to people on earth -- manipulated by their governments, burned by foreign experts, befooled by charities, and cheated at every turn. To be an African leader was to be a thief, but evangelists stole people's innocence, and self- serving aid agencies gave them false hope, which seemed worse. In reply, Africans dragged their feet or tried to emigrate, they begged, they pleaded, they demanded money and gifts with a rude, weird sense of entitlement. Not that Africa is one place. It is an assortment of motley republics and seedy chiefdoms. I got sick, I got stranded, but I was never bored. In fact, my trip was a delight and a revelation. Such a paragraph needs some explanation -- at least a book. This book perhaps. As I was saying, in those old undramatic days of my school- teaching in the bundu, folks lived their lives on bush paths at the ends of unpaved roads of red clay, in villages of grass-roofed huts. They had a new national flag to replace the Union Jack, they had just gotten the vote, some had bikes, many talked about buying their first pair of shoes. They were hopeful and so was I, a teacher living near a settlement of mud huts among dusty trees and parched fields. The children shrieked at play; the women, bent double -- most with infants slung on their backs -- hoed patches of corn and beans; and the men sat in the shade stupefying themselves on chibuku, the local beer, or kachasu, the local gin. That was taken for the natural order in Africa: frolicking children, laboring women, idle men. Now and then there was trouble: someone transfixed by a spear, drunken brawls, political violence, goon squads wearing the ruling-party T- shirt and raising hell. But in general the Africa I knew was sunlit and lovely, a soft green emptiness of low, flat-topped trees and dense bush, bird squawks, giggling kids, red roads, cracked and crusty brown cliffs that looked newly baked, blue remembered hills, striped and spotted animals and ones with yellow fur and fangs, and every hue of human being, from pink- faced planters in knee socks and shorts to brown Indians to Africans with black gleaming faces, and some people so dark they were purple. The predominant sound of the African bush was not the trumpeting of elephants nor the roar of lions but the coo-cooing of the turtledove. After I left Africa, there was an eruption of news about things going wrong, acts of God, acts of tyrants, tribal warfare and plagues, floods and starvation, bad-tempered political commissars, and little teenage soldiers who were hacking people. "Long sleeves?" they teased, cutting off hands; "short sleeves" meant lopping the whole arm. One million people died, mostly Tutsis, in the Rwanda massacres of 1994. The red African roads remained, but they were now crowded with ragged, bundle-burdened, fleeing refugees. Journalists pursued them. Goaded by their editors to feed a public hungering for proof of savagery on earth, reporters stood near starving Africans in their last shaking fuddle and intoned on the TV news for people gobbling snacks on their sofas and watching in horror. "And these people" -- tight close-up of a death rattle -- "these are the lucky ones." You always think, Who says so? Had something fundamental changed since I was there? I wanted to find out. My plan was to go from Cairo to Cape Town, top to bottom, and to see everything in between. Now African news was as awful as the rumors. The place was said to be dessperate, unspeakable, violent, plague-ridden, starving, hopeless, dying on its feet. And these are the lucky ones. I thought, since I hhhhhad plenty of time and nothing pressing, that I might connect the dots, crossing borders and seeing the hinterland rather than flitting from capital to capital, being greeted by unctuous tour guides. I had no desire to see game parks, though I supposed at some point I would. The word "safari," in Swahili, means "journey"; it has nothing to do with animals. Someone "on safari" is just away and unobtainable and out of touch. Out of touch in Africa was where I wanted to be. The wish to disappear sends many travelers away. If you are thoroughly sick of being kept waiting at home or at work, travel is perfect: let other people wait for a change. Travel is a sort of revenge for having been put on hold, having to leave messages on answering machines, not knowing your party's extension, being kept waiting all your working life -- the homebound writer's irritants.Being kept waiting is the human condition. I thought, Let other people explain where I am. I imagined the dialogue: "When will Paul be back?" "We don't know." "Where is he?" "We're not sure." "Can we get in touch with him?" "No." Travel in the African bush can also be a sort of revenge on cellular phones and fax machines, on telephones and the daily paper, on the creepier aspects of globalization that allow anyone who chooses to get his insinuating hands on you. I desired to be unobtainable. Kurtz, sick as he is, attempts to escape from Marlow's riverboat, crawling on all fours like an animal, trying to flee into the jungle. I understood that. I was going to Africa for the best reason -- in a spirit of discovery; and for the pettiest -- simply to disappear, to light out, with a suggestion of I dare you to try and find me. Home had become a routine, and routines make time pass quickly. I was a sitting duck in my predictable routine: people knew when to call me; they knew when I would be at my desk. I was in such regular touch it was like having a job, a mode of life I hated. I was sick of being called up and importuned, asked for favors, hit up for money. You stick around too long and people begin to impose their own deadlines on you. "I need this by the twenty-fifth" or "Please read this by Friday" or "Try to finish this over the weekend" or "Let's have a conference call on Wednesday." Call me, fax me, e-mail me. You can get me anytime on my cell phone, here's the number. Being available at any time in the totally accessible world seemed to me pure horror. It made me want to find a place that was not accessible at all: no phones, no fax machines, not even mail delivery, the wonderful old world of being out of touch. In other words, gone away. All I had to do was remove myself. I loved not having to ask permission, and in fact in my domestic life things had begun to get a little predictable, too -- Mr. Paul at home every evening when Mrs. Paul came home from work. "I made spaghetti sauce . . . I seared some tuna . . . I'm scrubbing some potatoes . . ."The writer in his apron, perspiring over his béchamel sauce, always within earshot of the telephone. You have to pick it up because it is ringing in your ear. I wanted to drop out. People said, "Get a cell phone, use FedEx, sign up for Hotmail, stop in at Internet cafés, visit my Web site . . ." I said no thanks. The whole point of my leaving was to escape this stuff, to be out of touch. The greatest justification for travel is not self- improvement but rather performing a vanishing act, disappearing without a trace. As Huck put it, lighting out for the territory. Africa is one of the last great places on earth a person can vanish into. I wanted that. Let them wait. I have been kept waiting far too many times for far too long. I am outta here, I told myself. The next Web site I visit will be that of the poisonous Central African bird-eating spider. A morbid aspect of my departure for Africa was that people began offering condolences. Say you're leaving for a dangerous place. Your friends call sympathetically, as though you've caught a serious illness that might prove fatal. Yet I found these messages unexpectedly stimulating, a heartening preview of what my own demise would be like. Lots of tears! Lots of mourners! But also, undoubtedly, many people boasting solemnly, "I told him not to do it. I was one of the last people to talk to him." I had gotten to Lower Egypt, and was heading south, in my usual traveling mood: hoping for the picturesque, expecting misery, braced for the appalling. Happiness was unthinkable, for although happiness is desirable, it is a banal subject for travel. Therefore, Africa seemed perfect for a long journey. Copyright (c) 2003 by Paul Theroux. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. Excerpted from Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town by Paul Theroux All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.