I really enjoyed this read and, as a yankee, I gained different and deeper perspectives from it. I read this in part for research and in part because I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Theroux speak about his tour of the South and found what he had to say interesting.
Theroux is a man who is curious and empathetic, and it is interesting to take in the perceptions he gleaned from his travels in the rural areas of the deep south, in states like Alabama, Georgia and Arkansas.
He chronicles the shocking levels of extreme poverty and minimal education in these areas that go ignored by the U.S. Government, even as we send billions overseas to assist foreign countries with food, clean water and education. He writes about the segregation and racism that still exists in the South, even though it has been over 65 years since the Civil Rights movement began. He describes the palpable and everpresent feelings of defeat and powerlessness, following the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement, and economic globalization, which hollowed out the job sector, small businesses and many of the towns. And -- perhaps most interesting to me -- the instinct of many in the rural south to cling to gun ownership and gun rights as one last attempt to regain a sense of power and control in a country that they feel has bossed them around and then left them behind.
As an added bonus, Theroux includes interesting explorations and opinions in regards to the work of writers like Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor, who are considered 'Southern' or 'Southern Gothic.'
Overall, I'm very glad I took the journey with Theroux through the rural south. It forced me out of my urban, left-leaning bubble a bit and helped me gain a greater understanding of some of the things driving what we are seeing play out politically right now.
Now it's time to escape back into some fiction...