Paul Theroux

"The Mosquito Coast"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark APR 10, 1999)

Allie Fox is sick of the fast foods, television, crime, bad workmanship, and cheap imports.  He is interested in the lifestyle of the Central American migrant workers who work for his boss and thus he decides that the answer is to start a new life in the jungles of Honduras. Fox moves his wife and four children from Hatfield, Massachusetts to a remote overgrown clearing on the Mosquito Coast, which he believes is untainted by the modern world.

The story is told from the view point of his son Charlie, who admires his father for "not settling for any average Crusoe sort of living."  Father builds a solid house (by going down to the beach to collect what is washed in from the world), has running water, toilet and laundry. Once this monumental task is complete, he decides to give a gift to the natives - ice.  So he builds a monstrous machine out of old pipes to turn "fire into ice."  Naturally, Allie Fox's actions are full of contradictions. Never mind his premise that this is a untainted region of the world. He soon finds that the natives know about ice and worse - Christianity. What works so well in this story is that it is told through the eyes of Charlie. Children naturally believe in their parents, but at the same time they have their own inner sense.

The Mosquito Coast is well written, humorous and a thought provoking adventure story.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 82 reviews
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(Reviewed by Judi Clark APR 10, 1999)

O-ZoneSet in the near future, it is a time when Sunday afternoons are spent in a sleep induced comas, women go to "contact clinics" to become pregnant, where they and their partners wear masks or else they have fetal implants. New York City is filled with terrible illegal aliens - Skells, Starkies, Trolls, Diggers and Roaches. To live in the city is to live in fortress like towers and rarely go outside.  So begins our tale of seven wealthy couples and a boy, who decide to spend New Year's Eve in The Outer Zone.  The Outer Zone has been uninhabited for about 15 years following a disastrous nuclear waste leak or so they have been told by the government. Now it is safe for elite vacations. 

O-Zone is Theroux once again extolling the theme that open spaces are important, alienation from nature is responsible for decadence and what we call civilization ain't too civil.  But maybe that's why I like his stories.  This is not what I call a tremendous piece of fiction, characters are flat and the story is somewhat predictable, but it's a fun thinking book.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 13 reviews

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About the Author:

Paul TherouxPaul Theroux was born in Medford, Massachusetts and was one of seven children. In the early sixties he joined the Peace Corps.  Theroux was involved in a failed coup d'etat of the Malawi president-dictator and was thrown out of the Peace Corps. After that, he taught English at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Here he met not only his wife, Anne Castle, a schoolteacher from London, but also but also the writer V. S. Naipaul. His first son was born in Uganda in 1968. While in Africa he published his first four novels.

Theroux next taught at the University of Singapore and thus his second son was born in Singapore. It was during this job that Theroux decided to be a full time writer.

Theroux is a prolific writer and has authored over 40 books (fiction and non-fiction) and has published articles and short stories in a variety of newspapers and magazines.  He has traveled throughout the world and has a tremendous reputation as a travel writer usually recounting his travels with humor and intelligence.  In 1977, Theroux won an award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Theroux is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Geographic Society in Britain.

Theroux and wife divide their time between Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Hawaii. About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014