Our own life stories are secret books, tales that lie deep within us, some remaining untold. In Theroux’s latest book we begin the journey with an earnest narrator, a writer who is casting around for his next project. He initially settles on an investigation into the life of his great-uncle who fought in the first World War. Every connection leads to another, like hopping from stone to stone across the rushing river of history, and we are lead into the story of an old man who wants to record his life for posterity.
From there, Theroux expertly weaves and interweaves tales that are so wonderfully written that you’ll become entranced, barely noticing when history and fact become elastic in the telling, so willing are we to believe what we’re being told. For Theroux, the telling of these tales is like alchemy, where time and facts, names and environment morph as required. This book really is something to be experienced, fiction at its best.