I first met Marcel Theroux this spring at the Faber Academy. I was in residence on Tuesdays for six months as a student of the novel writing program. During a talk he gave, during one of his writing exercises I penned this about Theroux:
It is a good life
I then wrote:
It is a good life
(a life I want for myself)
In preparation for Theroux’s talk and writing workshop, (we were informed of the author’s name a few days before) I only managed to read online the first chapter of each of his six books (thank you Amazon) before the two-hour meeting. What I gathered from this initial sweep of six very different stories is that Theroux follows a pattern which I recognized and admired.
I rushed out to speak alone to Theroux after he concluded his talk; I was keen to tell him my first impressions of the six different chapters and thank him for helping me to see clearer the path of the writer I hoped to become.
Regarding my impression of his works, I said:
Every one of your protagonists is a hero in search of self and each one respects literature. I love it that each of them reads or touches a book in the early pages. What comes through for me straight away is your own love for literature and your desire for each of your protagonists to be a guide to the reader into the depths of good literature as well as the desires of human consciousness. I like that; it helped me connect with each character. I guess I saw a part of my own self in the characters because I also love literature. Thank you.
Theroux seemed genuinely surprised by this observation and my impassioned declaration then displayed a flicker of pleasure. He is obviously a man who loves reading; when you read his writing it is clear he is a serious reader. The common language of each novel is the language of a well-read person which invites the reader to aspire to the same level. The common denominator is that the new and serious reader can feel at home in his work.
Theroux is magnanimous; a truly giving author. Each protagonist shares so much of their inner self; which in turn opens up new possibilities for the reader. It invites them to take a similar journey of self-discovery. This is what I gained finally after reading each full novel; while I found something familiar I also discovered so much more; new thoughts and new discoveries about other writer’s work and even some of their prose weaved expertly into Theroux’s original story. All of which enlightened and encouraged me to seek out the poetry or prose or quoted author, beyond the pages of each story. Each time I completed a Theroux novel I felt more enriched, educated and inspired.
What I liked best about all of them was from the first page I was able to inhabit the life of the protagonist. I felt like I lived their story with them; never once when reading, eager to return to my own reality.
Theroux is a rare storyteller; completely absorbing; an intelligent writer; and completely authentic. Truly a rare bird in a world of chatter on the page that rarely leaves me hungry for more of the same thing.
Novels by March Theroux:
New Release: The Secret Books (Faber & Faber) on 5 September 2017
Strange Bodies (2013) – One of my favorites.
Far North (2009) – Worth the journey with Makepeace.
A Blow to the Heart (2006) – Good.
The Paper Chase (2001) – Very good.
A Stranger in the Earth (1997) – My second favorite.
Theroux’s website: http://thisworldofdew.com/
Marcel Theroux discusses Strange Bodies: