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Blinding Light: A Novelby Paul Theroux
Synopses & Reviews
Slade Steadman is the ultimate one-book wonder. His lone opus, published twenty years ago, was Trespassing, a cult classic about his travels through dozens of countries without benefit of passport. With his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend Ava in tow, he sets out for Ecuadors jungle in search of a rare hallucinogenic drug and the cure for his writers block.
Amid a gang of thrill-seeking tourists, Steadman finds his drug and his inspiration but is beset with an unnerving side effect — periodic blindness. His world is altered profoundly; Ava stays by his side, he writes an erotic, autobiographical novel with the drug serving as muse, and he returns to stardom, now as a Blind Writer.
He becomes addicted to the drug and the insights it provides, only to have them desert him, along with his sight. Will he regain his vision? His visions? Or will he forgo the world of his imagining and his ambition? As Theroux leads us toward the answers, he makes fresh magic out of the venerable intertwined themes of sight and insight. He also offers incisive, sometimes hilarious takes on the manifold ironies of travel and the trappings of the writers life — from the fear of the blank page to the unexpected challenges of the book tour.
"Theroux's antihero, Slade Steadman, chronicled his renegade days of globetrotting without the aid of a passport in the bestselling Trespassing — 20 years ago. Living luxuriously off royalties on Martha's Vineyard, he has been struggling to finish a second book ever since. Things change when he flies to Ecuador in quest of a potent performance-enhancing drug. He smuggles back to the U.S. a year's supply of the rare datura, which when ingested produces temporary blindness and a paradoxical 'blinding light' that exposes truths about the world, truths he uses to complete his pompous, solipsistic Book of Revelation. The substance also luckily boosts his libido, for his relationship with tenacious obstetrician Ava has been on the rocks lately. Prolific Theroux (Dark Star Safari; Hotel Honolulu; etc.) oversaturates this novel with smutty, purplish passages describing cartoonish erotic encounters. The cheap sexual transgressions of a thinly veiled Bill Clinton character also take center stage as Theroux overworks a mirroring link between the fallible president and Steadman, who after the publication of his book continues to deceive his friends and the clamoring public by claiming to be truly blind. Theroux's language is typically vivid and lush when describing the Ecuadorian jungle. On the whole, however, his prose is repetitive, and Steadman is uncongenial, his fate after a year of substance abuse all too predictable. Agent, Andrew Wylie. Author tour. (June 1)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Theroux's greatest powers reside in his detailed and sensuous descriptions, and he is positively dazzling here as he calls forth a vivid world not of sights but of scents, sounds, and touch." Booklist
"Theroux's 40th book is the novel writers usually produce early in their careers: a Portrait of the Artist as Unregenerate Egomaniac....
"Blinding Light kept me up half the night, reading it slowly to savor every word. As rich and dense as the jungle itself, this is Paul Theroux at his very best — an extraordinary work!" Oliver Sacks
"A bravura performance...an enjoyable and worldly allegory of the pitfalls of literary success." New York Times Book Review
"A meditation on 'the act of creation' and on storytelling and novel writing, an extended piece of erotica and philosophizing about sex, a discourse on hallucinogenic drugs, a parody of travel writing and Theroux's own fame....Blinding Light is one long, strange trip." Chicago Tribune
Slade Steadman, the ultimate one-book wonder, searches for a rare hallucinogenic drug and the cure for his writer's block. He finds both but is beset with an unnerving side effect — periodic blindness — in this tale with intertwined themes of sight and insight.
From the New York Times best-selling author Paul Theroux, Blinding Light is a slyly satirical novel of manners and mind expansion. Slade Steadman, a writer who has lost his chops, sets out for the Ecuadorian jungle with his ex-girlfriend in search of inspiration and a rare hallucinogen. The drug, once found, heightens both his powers of perception and his libido, but it also leaves him with an unfortunate side effect: periodic blindness. Unable to resist the insights that enable him to write again, Steadman spends the next year of his life in thrall to his psychedelic muse and his erotic fantasies, with consequences that are both ecstatic and disastrous.
About the Author
Paul Theroux was born in Medford, Massachusetts in 1941 and published his first novel, Waldo in 1967. His subsequent novels include The Family Arsenal, Picture Palace, The Mosquito Coast, O-Zone, Millroy the Magician, My Secret History, My Other Life, and Kowloon Tong. His highly acclaimed travel books include Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, and Fresh Air Fiend. The Mosquito Coast and Dr. Slaughter have both been made into successful films. He was the guest editor of The Best American Travel Writing (Houghton Mifflin, October 2001). Theroux is a frequent contributer to magazines including Talk and Men's Journal. He divides his time between Cape Cod and the Hawaiian Islands, where he is a professional beekeeper.
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