Archive for Paul Theroux

Deep South

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2015 by stevemccurry

Paul Theroux’s book, Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads,
includes photographs by Steve McCurry

DSC_4192, Deep South, Warren, Arkansas, USA, 09/2013, USA-10914. Pastime theatre. Final Deep South selection for Smithsonian. retouched_Sonny Fabbri 11/25/2014

Warren, Arkansas

Paul Theroux and I have been working together since 1984.
We did a book together on Indian railways;
we worked on an assignment together in Costa Rica, and  

I visited him at his home in Hawaii.
Deep South is our second book collaboration.

DSC_2357, Elberton, Georgia, Deep South, USA, 09/2013, USA-10910. Abandoned garden. Retouched_Sonny Fabbri 4/15/2013
Elberton, Georgia

Paul has a keen sense of humor and a sharp wit.
He’s able to cut through the nonsense to find the truth.

DSC_4121; Deep South; Allendale, South Carolina, USA; 04/2014, USA-10998NF2. An old interstate sign. final_Smithsonian Web Article Retouched by Sonny Fabbri 7/15/2015
Allendale, South Carolina

DSC_6123, Deep South, Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA, 04/2014, USA-11044. A statue beside a house. CHECK IMAGE USAGE final_Smithsonian Magazine retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/15/2015
Natchez, Mississippi
Rosalie Mansion, built in Natchez in 1823 by a wealthy cotton broker, served as a Union headquarters in the Civil War.

DSC_5190, Deep South, Philadelphia, Mississippi, USA, 04/2014, USA-11024NF. Street view of Philadelphia water tower. retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/15/2015
Philadelphia, Mississippi

DSC_6664, Deep South, Arcola, Mississippi, United States, 04/2014, DSC_6753, DSC_6803, DSC_6804, USA-11060. A woman folds the American flag. retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/15/2015
Ruby Johnson, Postmaster
Arcola, Mississippi

“…the vitality of the South lies in the self-awareness of its deeply rooted people.
What made the South an enlightenment for a traveler like me, more interested in conversation than sightseeing,
was the heart and soul of its family narratives — its human wealth.”
– quoted by Bret Lott, Boston Globe

_DSC9480, Deep South, Alabama, USA, 2013, USA-10795. Barber Eugene Lyles relaxes in his shop. Final Deep South selection for Smithsonian_web Retouched_Sonny Fabbri 07/31/2015
Reverend Eugene Lyles
Greensboro, Alabama

“Ones born today don’t know how it was.”
– Rev. Lyles

DSC_3178, Deep South, USA, 09/2013, USA-10972. Reverend Lyles’s annotated Bible, on the desk in his barbershop retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/15/2015 Deep South_Book_HMH
Reverend Lyles’s annotated Bible on the desk in his barbershop.
 Greensboro, Alabama

“A church in the South is the beating heart of the community,
the social center, the anchor of faith, the beacon of light,
the arena of music, the gathering place, offering hope, counsel,
welfare, warmth, fellowship, melody, harmony, and snacks.”
– Paul Theroux, Deep South

DSC_9779, Deep South, Alabama, USA, 2013, USA-10797. Mary Ward Brown in her home. Final Deep South selection for Smithsonian. retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/20/2015
Award-winning short story writer, Mary Ward Brown, two months before she died.
Hamburg, Alabama

“She wrote like a tortoise,” the Southern historian Wayne Flynt wrote after Ms. Brown’s death,
“sniffing out every nook and cranny of existence, watching and listening as black and white lives
bumped up against each other.  When readers from Russia to Reeltown discover her stories,
they find universal meaning there, collisions of prejudices,
grievances, misunderstandings, failures, as well as
triumphs, kindnesses and generosity.”
– New York Times, May 22, 2013

DSC_4306, Deep South, Sylvania, Geogia, USA, 04/2014, USA-10995. The Dreamland Motel. CHECK IMAGE USAGE final_Smithsonian Magazine Retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/15/2015
Sylvania, Georgia

DSC_5648, Deep South, Greensboro, Alabama, USA, 04/2014, USA-11019NF. Janet May walking with a basket of flowers. Retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/15/2015
Janet May in front of her Bed and Breakfast.
Greensboro, Alabama

_DSC0529, Deep South, USA, 03/2013, USA-10778. Man steps from front porch. Retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/06/2015
Melvin Johnson on the porch of his family’s nineteenth-century house, which he’s lived in for more than fifty years.
Allendale, South Carolina

USA-10791NF2Demopolis, Alabama

USA-10794NF2Demopolis, Alabama

_DSC5744, Deep South, outside Palestine, Arkansas, USA, 04/2014, USA-10943. Delores Walker Robinson holds a goat on her cattle farm. CHECK IMAGE USAGE Final Deep South Selection_Smithsonian Online Publication Retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/15/2015
Delores Walker Robinson on her farm
Palestine, Arkansas

USA-10907Mississippi River
Natchez, Mississippi

_DSC9436, Deep South, USA, 2013, USA-10793. A funeral home. retouched_Sonny Fabbri
Greensboro, Alabama

DSC_5569, Greensboro, Alabama, Deep South, USA, 04/2014, USA-11021. Children of the Boys & Girls Club of America with Pam Dorr. final_Smithsonian Magazine Retouched_Ekaterina Savtsova 04/13/2014
Greensboro, Alabama

DSC_4675, Deep South, USA, 09/2013, USA-10912. Unpaved country road. Retouched_Sonny Fabbri 7/05/2015
Unpaved country road in the Ozarks, Arkansas

BIO-10930Paul Theroux and Steve McCurry
Allendale, South Carolina

To Read is to Fly

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2014 by stevemccurry

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which
gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety,
ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”
 – A C Grayling, Financial Times
(in a review of A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel)


I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
– Jorge Luis Borges


There is no frigate like a book 
To take us lands away, 
Nor any coursers like a page 
Of prancing poetry. 
This traverse may the poorest take 
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot 
That bears a human soul.
– Emily Dickinson

DSC_8680_esLondon, United Kingdom

01734_06_esShanghai, China

_SM17860_adj; Havana, Cuba; 2010, CUBA-00018 Cuba

00038_18, Serbia, Yugoslavia, 11/1989, YUGOSLAVIA-10127.Serbia


We read to know we’re not alone.
–  C.S. Lewis

USA-10880United States

DSC_3030_esCape Town, South Africa


India, November 2007,India


When I get a little money I buy books;
and if any is left I buy food and clothes.

– Erasmus

THAILAND-10147Chiang Mai, Thailand

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!
How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!
 When I have a house of my own,
I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.
–  Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

_SM17695; Italy; 07/2011, ITALY-10289Italy

00703_20, CANADA-10007, Nova Scotia, Footsteps of Buddha, 06/2005France

The ability to read awoke inside me some
long dormant craving to be mentally alive.

Autobiography of Malcolm X


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed,
and some few are to be chewed and digested.
– Francis Bacon

UNITED_ARAB_EMIRATES-10005United Arab Emirates

To learn to read is to light a fire;
every syllable that is spelled out is a spark. 

– Victor Hugo


Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily,
often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.
– Joyce Carol Oates

_SM11134, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2011, THAILAND-10066 final print_MACROChiang Mai, Thailand

Reading was my escape and my comfort,
my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it,
for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an
author’s words reverberating in your head.
– Paul Auster, The Brooklyn Follies

00939_16_es (1)Cambodia


USA-10821Renowned author, Paul Theroux, Hot Springs, Arkansas

SOUTH_AFRICA-10003NF_webSouth Africa

Beetles & Huxley Gallery
London, UK
12 May through 7 June 2014

Alex Del Piero Gallery
Power of Ten

Torino, Italy
16 May through 31 August 2014

Beauty in Imperfection

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2013 by stevemccurry

Wabi Sabi is a way of seeing the world that is at the heart of Japanese culture.
 It finds beauty and harmony in what is simple, imperfect, natural, modest, and mysterious.
– Mark Reibstein, Wabi Sabi


Tranquil simplicity,
rustic elegance,
imperfect beauty…these are qualities that wabi sabi embraces.
Wabi Sabi:  the Art of Everyday Life,  Diane Durston


Taj Mahal, Agra, India, 2010India

Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else.
Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment
given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view.
Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.

–  Leonard Koren, Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers


It is only with age that you acquire the gift to evaluate decay, the epiphany of Wordsworth,
the wisdom of wabi-sabi: nothing is perfect, nothing is complete, nothing lasts.
– Paul Theroux


00779_03, Morocco, 03/1988, MOROCCO-10165. A decorative door.Morocco

The beauty of wabi-sabi is rooted in modesty that is elegantly perceived.
The aesthetic pleasures of wabi-sabi depend on attitude and practice as much, or more, than on the materiality itself.
– Leonard Koren, op.cit.

_SM15987, Havana, Cuba, 2010, CUBA-10021final print_UrbanArt'12Havana, Cuba

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.
– Gerard Manley Hopkins
quoted in the Daily Good


00408_ 10..Cape Town, Capetown, South Africa.  March, 1996,  SOUTH_AFRICA-10012South Africa

The underlying principles of Wabi Sabi are diametrically opposed
to those of their Western counterparts, 

whose values are rooted in a worldview that
values permanence, grandeur, symmetry, and perfection.

– Andrew Juniper

For a lovely bowl
Let us arrange these flowers
For there is no rice
– Matsuo Bashō,  Japanese Haiku


If you look closely at a tree you’ll notice it’s knots and dead branches, just like our bodies.
What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully.
– Matthew Fox


DSC_4216; Japan; 05/2011; May; 2011, JAPAN-10101NFfinal print_MACROJapan


To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.
– John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice

CAMBODIA-10002View of Preah Khan, Cambodia

 A diamond with a flaw is worth more than a pebble without imperfections.
– Chinese proverb


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Just Write

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2012 by stevemccurry

Bamiyan, Afghanistan

Without words, without writing and without books
there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity.
– Hermann Hesse

Baluchistan, Pakistan

Writing  is one of the grand, free human activities.
–  Thomas E. Cronin


Writing is both mask and unveiling.
– E.B. White


Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
– William Wordsworth

Kegalla, Sri Lanka


Writing is thinking on paper.
– William Zinsser

 Kabul, Afghanistan

The maker of a sentence launches out into the infinite…
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted.
– Jules Renard, Journal, 10 April 1895


Like most—maybe all— writers, I learned to write by writing and,
by example, by
reading books.
– Francine Prose

Bruce Duffy, writer and author, working on an article for Life Magazine, Afghanistan

The pen is mightier than the sword.
– Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Dith Pran, survivor of Cambodia’s killing fields, photojournalist, and author of
Children of Cambodia’s Killing Fields: Memoirs by Survivors

Paul Theroux, writer and novelist, Costa Rica

Words so innocent and powerless as they are,
as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil
they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.
– Nathaniel Hawthorne


Creative writing begins with creative thinking
– K. Earle



It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.
– Vita Sackville-West


Writing left by visitors to a pilgrimage site in Burma


The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought,
this in turn makes
us think more deeply about life … 
– Norbet Platt

Young Sikh boys in classroom, Afghanistan

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the
difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
– Mark Twain

Importance of Elsewhere

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2011 by stevemccurry

Calcutta, India

In Paul Theroux’s new book, The Tao of Travel, he writes,
“As a child, yearning to leave home and go far away, the image in my mind was of flight — my little self hurrying off alone.
I wanted to find a new self in a distant place, and new things to care about.  The importance of elsewhere was something
I took on faith.  Elsewhere was the place I wanted to be.”



 “The wish to travel seems to me characteristically human; the desire to move, to satisfy your curiosity or ease your fears, to
change the circumstances of your life, to be a stranger,
to make a friend, to experience an exotic landscape, to risk the unknown …”   – Theroux








Mizoram, India

00707_08, Shanghai, China; 1989, CHINA-10080

Shanghai, China


Havana, Cuba

“…The tourist generally hurries back home at the end of a
few weeks or months,the traveler, belonging no more to one place than to the next, moves slowly,
over periods of years, from one part of the earth to another.”
– Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky 










The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
-Marcel Proust



Mazar-i Sharif, AFghanistan, 2003, AFGHN-12341NF

Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan

“All good trips are, like love, about being carried out of yourself and deposited in the
midst of terror and wonder. ”
– Pico Iyer, Why We Travel


Varanasi, India







Sulu Sea, Philippines

“There is a change that takes place in a man or a woman in transit.
You can see this at its most exaggerated on a ship when whole personalities change.”
– John Steinbeck



 “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain


Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet

COSTA_RICA-10006, Papagayo, Costa Rica, 05/2007, Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux, Papagayo, Costa Rica


“Travel is flight and pursuit in equal parts.”
The Great Railway Bazaar, Theroux


Agra, India


Riding the Indian Railways

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2010 by stevemccurry



Dusty and monumental, India’s trains often seem as ancient as India itself. – Paul Theroux





Ever since the British built the railroads in India that stitched that vast subcontinent together, the trains have connected all of its disparate parts.




When I was on assignment shooting a story on the Indian Railways,  I would go to the station every day and wander around the platform each time a train would roll in, carefully stepping over bodies and around huge mountains of luggage, and would start to photograph the swirl of life that assaults and saturates the senses.




Anything and everything takes place in a station; there is nothing that the depot hasn’t observed. The train station is a theater and everything imaginable happens on its stage. People endlessly wait, they camp out in the stations, and many call it home.




Travelers must share it with the occasional cow or even monkeys foraging for scraps, tolerate ever-present shouts from vendors trying frantically to attract business, and demonstrate patience with the endless queues.



When the train pulls into the station there is a mad dash of humanity as though it is the last train out of hell. People push through the doors and climb through the windows to capture an elusive seat in order to avoid the punishment of having to stand for an entire trip that could take six hours or more. Often the trains are so crowded, the aisles so packed with bodies pressed up against each other, that you cannot even lift an arm to scratch the back of your head.




One day I came across a solitary figure eating lunch — not an unusual sight in many places, but in the bazaar that is an Indian railway station, something that captured my attention. He had carved out a quiet refuge in that chaotic universe and seemed to be lost in a quiet contemplation that was the perfect foil for the rowdy universe that surrounded him.



India is peculiarly visible from a railway train.  I have the idea that much of Indian life is lived within sight of the tracks or the station, and often next to the tracks, or inside the station.  It is not only part of Indian culture, but it is an ingredient in Indian life; it is dynamic, energetic, powerful. It is impossible to imagine India without the railway, or to think what could conceivably replace it.”  -Paul Theroux, The Imperial Way


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