Estonia by Alexander Theroux
A Ramble Through the Periphery

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Synopsis

“Seeing Estonia — disrobing her — was my focus.”

Any journey with Alexander Theroux is an education. Possessed of a razor-sharp and hyperliterate mind, he stands beside Thomas Pynchon as one of the sharpest cultural commentators of our time. So when he decided to accompany his wife — the artist Sarah Son-Theroux — on her Fulbright Scholarship to Estonia, it occasioned this penetrating examination of a country that, for many, seems alien and distanced from the modern world.

For Theroux, the country and its people become a puzzle. His fascination with their language, manners, and legacy of occupation and subordination lead him to a revelatory examination of Estonia’s peculiar place in European history. All the while, his trademark acrobatic allusions, quotations, and digressions — which take us from Hamlet through Jean Cocteau to Married… with Children — render his travels as much internal and psychical as they are external and physical. Through these obsessive references to Western culture, we come to appreciate how insular the country has become, yet also marvel at its fierce individuality and preternatural beauty — such is the skill of Theroux’s gaze.

This travelogue of his nine months abroad also brims with anecdotes of Theroux’s encounters with Estonian people and — in some of its most bitterly comedic episodes — his fellow Americans whom he at times feels more alienated from than the frosty, humorless Europeans.

Estonia: A Ramble Through the Periphery is as biting and satirical as it is witty and urbane; as curious and lyrical as it is brash and irreverent. It marks a new highlight in an already stellar career and a book that continues Fantagraphics’ exceptional line of prose works.
 

About Alexander Theroux

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Alexander Theroux is an award-winning novelist, poet and teacher whose prose works include Laura Warholic or, The Sexual Intellectual, Estonia, and the two artist monographs The Strange Case of Edward Gorey and The Enigma of Al Capp. His novel Darconville's Cat was chosen by Anthony Burgess as one of the 99 greatest post-war novels. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife Sarah-Son Theroux.
 
Published November 21, 2011 by Fantagraphics. 352 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Travel.

Unrated Critic Reviews for Estonia

The Wall Street Journal

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A sojourn in the Baltics—discovering much to admire but even more to complain about, with frustration mounting to fury.

Dec 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Estonia: A Ramble Through the...

The Washington Times

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Some of the most interesting travel books happen by accident. If Alexander Theroux's wife had not gone to Estonia on a Fulbright Scholarship, it is unlikely that he would have spent an extended period in the tiny Baltic republic, an experience that impelled him to write this book.

Feb 24 2012 | Read Full Review of Estonia: A Ramble Through the...

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