"A portrait of an optimist with curiosity and affection for humanity in all its forms."—The New York Times Book Review "Theroux is at the top of his game with his third collection of essays, a magisterial grouping of intimate remembrances, globe-trotting adventures, and incisive literary critiques."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review "Theroux's observations are so keen and writerly skills so sharp that he butter-slices narratives with a razor-thin surgeon's scalpel, masterfully serving up both the world's dark underbelly and its gloriously uplifting sustenance of love, longing and wonder-lust." —Forbes Paul Theroux's latest collection of essays applies his signature searching curiosity to a life lived as much in reading as on the road. This writerly tour-de-force features a satisfyingly varied selection of topics. Travel essays take us to Ecuador, Zimbabwe, and Hawaii, to name a few. Gems of literary criticism reveal fascinating depth in the work of Henry David Thoreau, Muriel Spark, Joseph Conrad, and Hunter Thompson. And in a series of breathtakingly personal profiles, we take a helicopter ride with Elizabeth Taylor, go diagnosing with Oliver Sacks, eavesdrop on the day-to-day life of a Manhattan dominatrix, and explore New York with Robin Williams. An extended meditation on the craft of writing binds together this wide-ranging collection, along with Theroux's constant quest for the authentic in a person or in a place.