Books: Swan Song

THE CONSUL'S FILE by Paul Theroux

Houghton Mifflin; 209 pages; $8.95

"I tried to be moderate and dependable," says the young American diplomat-narrator of Paul Theroux's latest fiction, "for the fact is that colorful characters—almost unbearable in the flesh —are colorful only in retrospect." For ten years now the productive Theroux has been transforming the unbearable flesh encountered during his wide travels into pleasurable pages. His eight novels include Girls at Play, Jungle Lovers and Saint Jack, whose settings and atmospheres were drawn from the author's years as a Peace Corpsman in Africa...

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