Remember your favorite grandparent — the one who was smart, sweet, funny, and wise, if a bit cranky and repetitive? “The Last Train to Zona Verde,” Paul Theroux’s latest (and, the 72-year-old hints, his last) major travel book, is a lot like that.
Now, before the charges of ageism start flying, understand that Theroux likely would embrace this comparison. In fact, if “The Last Train” is a book about Africa, it’s also a book about growing old — about the positives and negatives of both. Theroux’s travel writing, as he once wrote in “The Great Railway Bazaar,” blends fiction, journalism, and autobiography. It makes sense that in this new book Theroux’s age becomes a character, a thing rattling around amid the rail cars, even when he doesn’t actually intend it.