Kenneth Branagh's Bookshelf
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.