By Paul Theroux
Theroux reintroduced me to my own country. He traveled the coast, describing the differences not just in the terrain but also among the people. The off-season is very beguiling, and Theroux is so good at capturing that strange British determination to go and enjoy the seaside regardless of the weather, a tradition encapsulated in the familiar image of people driving their motorcars up to the edge of a shingled bank and just sitting there with a thermos of tea and a few sandwiches, staring out at the rain. He makes Britain seem vast. We sometimes feel, particularly these days, that we are a tiny island and insignificant. But the diversity here is striking, even if in this case all the elements he describes fall under the bracket of the English seaside.