By Paul Theroux
recently came across an interview of Paul Theroux in “New York Times’” “By the Book” in which he reveals that ”The Mosquito Coast” was his favorite most personally meaningful book. He goes on to say, “…Over a period of two years, knowing it was a great idea and plot, I wrote confidently in rainy cold sedate London , and it is of course a book set in sunny warm anarchic Honduras,” at which point I realized that although I’d seen the movie, I’d never read the book! I’d read all of his non-fiction works but on “Kowloon Tong” in the fiction genre, so I finally read “The Mosquito Coast”.
I was also thinking about the relationship between the book and the movie while researching an article about Theroux’s fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer author and friend, Moritz Thomsen who revealed in a letter directed to fellow author Tom Miller in 1986 that Jack Nicolson had been offered the lead role of Allie Fox, “…He wanted four and a half million dollars so they got Harrison Ford. Tom, that’s what he said…” Another version of the story indicates he wouldn’t take the role since he wouldn’t be able to attend Laker home games! Either way, Harrison Ford received the role which gained him ever greater notoriety in Hollywood. Although it was one of the few movies that didn’t immediately exceed the cost, Ford claimed that part of the problem was, “that it didn’t fully enough embrace the language of the book . It may have more properly been a literary rather than a cinematic exercise.”