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Blinding Light (EE)
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Paul Theroux has written many works of fiction and travel writing, including the modern classics The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, My Secret History and The Mosquito Coast. Paul Theroux divides his time between Cape Cod and the Hawaiian islands.

Reviews

Theroux's antihero, Slade Steadman, chronicled his renegade days of globetrotting without the aid of a passport in the bestselling Trespassing-20 years ago. Living luxuriously off royalties on Martha's Vineyard, he has been struggling to finish a second book ever since. Things change when he flies to Ecuador in quest of a potent performance-enhancing drug. He smuggles back to the U.S. a year's supply of the rare datura, which when ingested produces temporary blindness and a paradoxical "blinding light" that exposes truths about the world, truths he uses to complete his pompous, solipsistic Book of Revelation. The substance also luckily boosts his libido, for his relationship with tenacious obstetrician Ava has been on the rocks lately. Prolific Theroux (Dark Star Safari; Hotel Honolulu; etc.) oversaturates this novel with smutty, purplish passages describing cartoonish erotic encounters. The cheap sexual transgressions of a thinly veiled Bill Clinton character also take center stage as Theroux overworks a mirroring link between the fallible president and Steadman, who after the publication of his book continues to deceive his friends and the clamoring public by claiming to be truly blind. Theroux's language is typically vivid and lush when describing the Ecuadorian jungle. On the whole, however, his prose is repetitive, and Steadman is uncongenial, his fate after a year of substance abuse all too predictable. Agent, Andrew Wylie. Author tour. (June 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Slade Steadman's first book, an edgy travel memoir called Trespassing, showcased his daring world travels as he crossed borders while evading passport checkpoints. It catapulted him into cult status, spawning countless fans, a TV show, and even a line of travel gear. Twenty years later, Slade suffers writer's block as he continues struggling to write the follow-up. He is disheartened by those who say he's become a brand-that he needn't bother writing ever again. Finally, Slade goes on a drug trip to Ecuador with an ex-girlfriend in search of a psychedelic muse ? la William Burroughs. Slade finds a drug that provides almost prophetic insight-at the price of his being blinded. But periodic blindness seems a small price to pay in his arrogant pursuit of a novel of interior travel and sexual confession. What's more, his blindness puts him back in the literary limelight, where he even occasionally rubs elbows with President Clinton. Theroux (The Stranger at the Palazzo d'Oro) writes with assurance here as he captures his narcissistic protagonist's heedless spiral into addiction and delusions of grandeur. Slade's descent serves as a guided tour of the heaven and hell that accompany writers who achieve fame and try to reclaim it. Recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/05.]-Misha Stone, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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