When I was 13, the woods within which the house we lived in was located was cleared so the city of Philadelphia could install a sewerage system (which would make it feasible to build more houses). We had moved there in 1949 and I walked through those woods to go to school. I got to know them very well and the many birds that came through there (lots visited during migration). It only took a morning and part of the afternoon to do the job. The woods were there when I went to school that morning and were gone when I came back. I was heart-broken. I even shed some tears. My childhood ended that day. But so did any temptation to sentimentality (though I doubt if I knew that at the time).
I knew from then on not to count on permanence - and not to get bent out of shape over change. Theroux must know that there are plenty of places in the U.S. where you can still drive and not run into much. Try North Dakota. I also don't buy his bit about Americans lacking politeness (though Philadelphians may). Not too long ago Debbie and I were taking a subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan. I was astounded at how helpful the New Yorkers were. One practically got off the subway to make sure we didn't go the wrong way when we got off.