My Other Life

by Paul Theroux

In My Other Life, (reviewed below) Paul Theroux makes the following comment with which many of us can identify:

“We had both been to Africa, which was like having been to the same great university or having fought in a long, virtuous war....”

Also from My Other Life, by Paul Theroux:

“I just finished casting a film about necrophilia”, she had told me once. “I know it sounds gross, but it's being done in the best possible taste. Stop laughing. Anyway, I found this wonderful young actress, who is just so good at playing dead in the sex scenes. The other day during one of these scenes a fly landed on her eye and she didn't blink. That is acting.”

I'm cheating in two respects with this book: it only has one chapter on Africa, and I haven't quite finished reading it. So sue me.

I have mixed feelings about Paul Theroux: he's a fine writer, but a not so fine human being. Mosquito Coast was, I though, a wonderful book.... but the portrait of him that emerges from his non-fiction and autobiographical fiction (which is what this is) is rather unappealing. Consider this book, for example: the first chapter ends with him having sex with a leper, in the same room with her blind mother. The second chapter ends with him stealing a considerable sum from a employer who has been generous and undemanding. Later in the book he tries to cheat on his wife with a woman who turns out to be a murderer; and so on.

The book is more like a collection of anecdotes, but it is well-written and quite entertaining. It's not really about Africa (except for the first chapter), so I won't give it a rave: I rate it *** (out of ****).

This book may be at your library, or can be ordered from Amazon Books.

Back to The Friends of Togo Guide to Books about Africa