Why Paul Theroux Loves Cape Cod
For 50 years, Paul Theroux’s addictive novels in addition to brutally honest travel narratives have inspired readers to leave home, travel slow in addition to having a purpose beyond sightseeing. His versatility in addition to boundless curiosity shine in “Figures in a Landscape,” a brand new collection of essays (to be published on May 8), in addition to in his latest autobiographical novel, “Mother Land” (which will be published in paperback on May 1), where Mr. Theroux takes readers to his beloved Cape Cod in addition to deep inside the Machiavellian world of a large, dysfunctional family run by a scheming matriarch. the item’s a deeply revealing in addition to wickedly funny gem that will may be the best book ever written about the interpersonal dynamics of a big family. Following are edited excerpts through a conversation with him.
Why did you choose to set This particular novel on Cape Cod?
The Cape will be the scene of my childhood happiness. As a traveler, you look for conflicted or misunderstood or little known places — Great places to write about. however the place that will makes you happy as a child will be one you return to — the blue remembered hills, the happy highways of the Housman poem. If you develop the opportunity, you go back there to recapture that will sense of serenity you had in your childhood. My childhood was late 40s, early 50s — a period when Cape Cod was modest in addition to simple. The cottage we rented didn’t have a refrigerator; there was an ice man who delivered blocks of ice for the chest.
I remember the sunshine, the beaches, the smell of the salt marshes. I grew up in Medford [Massachusetts], however my parents moved to the Cape, in addition to I always wanted to come back here. in addition to so, as soon as I had some money, around 1975, when I was living in London, I bought a house on the Cape in addition to I’ve spent every summer here since then.
How closely does the family in This particular book resemble your own?
the item’s about 60 percent true to real events. Some of the item will be word for word real. I didn’t want to hurt anyone, however on the some other hand, the item’s my life, what else am I going to write about? Some of the things that will have happened to me are too Great not to write about. I genuinely did have a child with my girlfriend that will we put up for adoption in addition to he genuinely did come back into my life in addition to will be a wonderful addition to the family. that will happened. We went to Puerto Rico in 1961 to develop the baby, just as from the book. in addition to there’s This particular business of my brother Alex writing This particular corrosive review of my work. My sisters did indeed sell books I’d given to them. We’re a fragmented family. I’m conversational with some of them, however not to others.
Family conflicts aside, you described summer on the Cape as a fantasy of bliss, a place to lounge on hammocks, eat lobster in addition to steamed clams, in addition to enjoy the sound of the crickets. will be This particular your variation of paradise?
I wouldn’t spend the summer anywhere else. I never travel from the summer. through the end of May until the middle of September, I’m on the Cape. People ask me to go to writers’ conferences or go to Brazil or write about Greenland or wherever, in addition to I say, “No. Get back to me around Columbus Day in addition to maybe I’ll consider the item.”
Apart through the traffic, there’s no real downside here. There’s a height restriction on buildings, which will be a great advantage. I live in Hawaii half the year, in addition to there, there’s always a brand new building, a brand new road, a brand new business, a brand new tower block. Big hideous buildings blocking your view of the sea. When I come to the Cape nothing ever adjustments. Where I live, there’s no fast food — no McDonald’s, no Taco Bell, no KFC, just mom in addition to pops in addition to the Edward Hopper ambience.
The protagonist of “Mother Land” occupies his mother’s cottage on the Cape during the high season in addition to she has the audacity to charge him for his stay. will be having a cottage on the Cape a blessing or a curse?
the item’s a mixed blessing. People will want to visit you in addition to stay there. I dislike the accumulated karma in hotel rooms, the much-used mattresses. In order to work, I like to have a place to call my own. As a writer, I don’t like to be interrupted or uprooted. I need to be in my own space.
however when you have a family sharing a cottage, the item’s a nightmare. Someone decides to buy a brand new sofa in addition to everyone gets charged for the item. The grandchildren use the item in addition to put stains on the ceiling. I came back to my place on Cape Cod once in addition to there were footprints all over one wall. Anything shared will be problematical, especially in a big family. This particular will be why communism will be a failure I suppose. Look at any big family in addition to you’ll see why. Read my book in addition to you’ll see why the Soviet Union broke up.