Books: Making Tracks

THE GREAT RAILWAY BAZAAR

by PAUL THEROUX 342 pages. Houghton Mifflin. $10.

Why not take as many trains as possible from London to Tokyo—including a few spur lines of the moment—and then back again? This notion would no doubt horrify the hapless U.S. rail commuter and send him reeling back to the bar car. Yet in late 1973 Novelist Paul Theroux 35, spent four months chugging over just such an odyssey. Surprisingly, he not only survived but entertainingly tells the tale.

First he explains the mania that provoked him. Like such disparate figures as Molly Bloom and Richard Nixon, Theroux says he has...

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