Obsessed from his youth with the pleasures of a double life: one public, proper & successful, the other secret, dangerous & decadent; a successful writer & world traveler meets and marries the woman that causes him to truly examine himself and his motivations. But now he must confront the problem of ending his secret life without destroying his public one. Theroux confronts the foolishness of men and celebrates the wisdom of women.
From an early adolescence torn between a call to the priesthood and the call of the flesh, through late-adolescent sexual initiation and a young adult's escapades as a teacher in Africa, to a grown man's crisis in marriage, Theroux recounts the "secret history" of Andy Parent, a writer suspiciously resembling Theroux himself. That the purpose is to show a man "writing for his life," his fragmented self so healed by making "something new of his experience" that his work is seen metaphorically as "going home," is not apparent until the final pages, and though these pages dazzle they hardly seem novelistic. For the reader, Andy's impulse to write is buried in the unending description of his numerous liaisons--there is enough sexual endeavor here to bore the most prurient among us. Indeed, his comment, "My being inarticulate was probably the reason I had become a writer," serves to highlight Theroux's own failure to articulate the connections between Andy's early life and later self-discovery as a writer. A tantalizing novel whose occasional power suggests how much better it could have been.