Note: these three articles were free to read for two weeks but are now paywalled again. To read them, and articles from all other issues of Granta, buy a digital subscription now.
The acclaimed travel writer Paul Theroux has contributed no fewer than thirteen articles to Granta – we have selected three short pieces from the archive as part of our Travel Week. They are free to read for two weeks from today (see here for information on buying a subscription to our archive for just £12.99).
In ‘First Train Journey’, from Granta 29, Theroux describes his beginnings as a travel writer. The motivation behind his first book was more prosaic than the writing: ‘money was crucial in my decision to write my first travel book – simply, I needed it.’ He was also frustrated by the ‘sightseeing’ approach to much of the travel writing of the time, and wanted to bring to it ‘the moments of desperation or fear or lust, the details of meals, the names of books read to kill time, the condition of toilets.’ The Great Railway Bazaar, now considered a classic, was the result.
In 1993, four years after Bruce Chatwin’s death, Theroux wrote ‘Chatwin revisited’, a qualified but ultimately admiring tribute to the great writer. A huge number of friends came to his funeral, Theroux writes – though very few of them knew each other. Among Chatwin’s odder habits were the ‘sudden disappearances’ he was given to; Theroux also speculates on another: ‘I believe he talked to himself, probably yakked non-stop, rehearsing his stories and practising funny accents and mimicry’. Visit the page for this issue, Granta 44.
Finally, below, we include Theroux’s contribution to a series of shorts, ‘How America Sees the World’ (Granta 84). Immersing himself in the travel experience, the author became more involved than he would have liked with a couple he met in a bar in Zambia one Christmas Eve. ‘There was no common ground, other than mutual exploitation.’
See also... ‘West African Sketchbook’ (right), with new drawings by artist George Butler, whose work has appeared in four issues of Granta.
Subscriptions to Granta’s archive are now on sale: for just £12.99, the price of one print issue, readers can get access to thirty-one years of the best new writing. Click here to buy a digital subscription now; or subscribe to the magazine and get automatic free access to the archive.