Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Paul Theroux at Portland State University (10-18-08)
The world changes, and the travel writer rarely revisits places he may have written about, but in "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Railway Bazaar, his latest book, well-known travel writer Paul Theroux tells of his returning to places he documented in "The Great Railway Bazaar" in the 70s.
Theroux's visit to Portland State University was the main event of PSU Week-End. As soon as the doors to Smith Ballroom opened to the general public, baby boomers and PSU alumni ($10) and students ($5) filed in early for a chance to get a seat close to the center of Smith Ballroom to hear Theroux.
His speech to a full room with nary an empty seat, was somewhat disjointed, like, say, it was a speech he may have prepared for a generic college graduation, but reworked for the old folks (Class of 58) who were sitting at the front of Smith Ballroom, eating a $125 lunch served by PSU Catering services, -and based on the food served by at the English Department’s “Meet and Greet” event a couple of nights before, a frightful prospect if there ever was one.
Despite the many conversational-style pauses and hesitations in his delivery, Theroux told interesting anecdotes, confirming that a travel writer would certainly experience the unusual during his trips.
I was particularly thrilled to get him to sign one of my favorite books of his, “The Collected Stories,” and, of course, my sketchbook.