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Paul Theroux's Quotes

Paul Theroux profile photo

Born: 1941-04-10
Profession: Novelist
Nation: American
Biography of Paul Theroux

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It's only when you're alone that you realize where you are. You have nothing to fall back on except your own resources.

Tags: Alone, Fall, Realize

Love doesn't last.

Tags: Last, Love

Men in their late 50s often make very bad decisions.

Tags: Bad, Decisions, Men

My greatest inspiration is memory.

Tags: Greatest, Memory

My house is a place I have spent many years improving to the point where I have no desire to leave it.

Tags: Desire, Leave, Place

People talk about the pain of writing, but very few people talk about the pleasure and satisfaction.

Tags: Pain, Talk, Writing

People who don't read books a lot are threatened by books.

Tags: Books, Read, Threatened

The amount of hassle involved in travel can be overwhelming.

Tags: Amount, Involved, Travel

The more you write, the more you're capable of writing.

Tags: Capable, Write, Writing

The Peace Corps is a sort of Howard Johnson's on the main drag into maturity.

Tags: Drag, Maturity, Peace

The pleasure a reader gets is often equal to the pleasure a writer is given.

Tags: Often, Pleasure, Writer

Travel works best when you're forced to come to terms with the place you're in.

Tags: Best, Place, Travel

When I began to make some money, I really wanted to have a home.

Tags: Home, Money, Wanted

When I went to Hong Kong, I knew at once I wanted to write a story set there.

Tags: Once, Wanted, Write

Writing is pretty crummy on the nerves.

Tags: Nerves, Pretty, Writing

You can't write about a friend, you can only write about a former friend.

Tags: Former, Friend, Write

You may not know it but I'm no good at coping with all the attention in the luxury hotels I sometimes find myself in.

Tags: Good, May, Sometimes

A travel book is about someone who goes somewhere, travels on the ground, sees something and spends quite a lot of time doing it, and has a hard time, and then comes back and writes about it. It's not about inventing.

Tags: Someone, Time, Travel

Fiction writing, and the reading of it, and book buying, have always been the activities of a tiny minority of people, even in the most-literate societies.

Tags: Book, Reading, Writing

I can't predict how reading habits will change. But I will say that the greatest loss is the paper archive - no more a great stack of manuscripts, letters, and notebooks from a writer's life, but only a tiny pile of disks, little plastic cookies where once were calligraphic marvels.

Tags: Change, Great, Life

I know there are writers who feel unhappy with domesticity and who even manufacture domestic turmoil in order to have something to write about. With me, though, the happier I feel, the better I write.

Tags: Order, Unhappy, Write

Literary life used to be quite different in Britain in the years I lived there, from 1971 to 1989, because money was not a factor - no one made very much except from U.S. sales and the occasional windfall.

Tags: Life, Money, Used

Many aspects of the writing life have changed since I published my first book, in the 1960s. It is more corporate, more driven by profits and marketing, and generally less congenial - but my day is the same: get out of bed, procrastinate, sit down at my desk, try to write something.

Tags: Book, Life, Writing
Much more quotes by Paul Theroux below the page.

Mark Twain was a great traveler and he wrote three or four great travel books. I wouldn't say that I'm a travel novelist but rather a novelist who travels - and who uses travel as a background for finding stories of places.

Tags: Great, Rather, Travel

People write about getting sick, they write about tummy trouble, they write about having to wait for a bus. They write about waiting. They write three pages about how long it took them to get a visa. I'm not interested in the boring parts. Everyone has tummy trouble. Everyone waits in line. I don't want to hear about it.

Tags: Boring, Sick, Waiting

The moment that changed me for ever was the moment my first child was born. I was happy, filled with hope, and thought, 'Now I understand the whole point of work, of life, of love.'

Tags: Life, Love, Work

When I left Africa in 1966 it seemed to me to be a place that was developing, going in a particular direction, and I don't think that is the case now. And it's a place where people still kid themselves - you know, in a few years this will happen or that will happen. Well, it's not going to happen. It's never going to happen.

Tags: Few, Happen, Place

When I started writing, I did have some idealised notion of my dad as a writer. But I have less and less of a literary rivalry with him as I've gone on. I certainly don't feel I need his approval, although maybe that's because I'm confident that I've got it.

Tags: Dad, Him, Writing

When I was in the Peace Corps I never made a phone call. I was in Central Africa; I didn't make a phone call for two years. I was in Uganda for another four years and I didn't make a phone call. So for six years I didn't make a phone call, but I wrote letters, I wrote short stories, I wrote books.

Tags: Another, Peace, Short

When I write about my childhood I think, oh my God, how did I ever get from there to here? Not that any great thing has happened to me. But I felt so tiny, so lost.

Tags: God, Great, Lost

Friendship is also about liking a person for their failings, their weakness. It's also about mutual help, not about exploitation.

Tags: Friendship, Help, Weakness

You define a good flight by negatives: you didn't get hijacked, you didn't crash, you didn't throw up, you weren't late, you weren't nauseated by the food. So you are grateful.

Tags: Food, Good, Travel

Gain a modest reputation for being unreliable and you will never be asked to do a thing.

Tags: Asked, Gain, Reputation

Fiction gives us a second chance that life denies us.

Tags: Chance, Life, Second

Tourists don't know where they've been, travelers don't know where they're going.

Tags: Tourists, Travel, Travelers

I am happy being what I am.

Tags: Happy

Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of grace.

Tags: Grace, Mind, State

I like the idea of isolation, I like the idea of solitude. You can be connected and have a phone and still be lonely.

Tags: Idea, Lonely, Solitude

I cannot make my days longer so I strive to make them better.

Tags: Cannot, Days, Longer

I think I understand passion. Love is something else.

Tags: Love, Passion, Understand

Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.

Tags: Glamorous, Retrospect, Travel

The Australian Book of Etiquette is a very slim volume.

Tags: Australian, Book, Etiquette

The Japanese have perfected good manners and made them indistinguishable from rudeness.

Tags: Good, Manners, Rudeness

Death is an endless night so awful to contemplate that it can make us love life and value it with such passion that it may be the ultimate cause of all joy and all art.

Tags: Art, Life, Love

A novel captures essence that is not possible in any other form.

Tags: Essence, Novel, Possible

Extensive traveling induces a feeling of encapsulation, and travel, so broadening at first, contracts the mind.

Tags: Feeling, Mind, Travel

The people of Hong Kong are criticized for only being interested in business, but it's the only thing they've been allowed to do.

Tags: Business, Criticized, Interested

There are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can't think of one at the moment.

Tags: Moment, Rock, Star

Although I'm not fluent in sign language by a long way, I could have a fairly decent conversation.

Tags: Decent, Language, Sign

Fiction gives us the second chances that life denies us.

Tags: Fiction, Life, Second

I don't think I've ever seen a person having a serious conversation on a cellphone. It's like a kiddie thing, a complete time waster.

Tags: Seen, Serious, Time

I think that love isn't what you think it is when you're in your twenties or even thirties.

Tags: Love, Thirties, Twenties

I'm constantly running across people who have never heard of books I think they should read.

Tags: Books, Heard, Read

If you're a misanthrope you stay at home. There are certain writers who really don't like other people. I'm not like that, I don't think.

Tags: Home, Stay, Writers

It is usually expensive and lonely to be principled.

Tags: Expensive, Lonely, Principled

I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation.

Tags: Creation, Gardening, Present

Mistakes are the usual bridge between inexperience and wisdom.

Tags: Between, Mistakes, Wisdom

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.

Tags: Good, Heart, Moving