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The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacificby J. Maarten Troost
When Troost followed his wife to a small island nation he expected Bali Hai. Instead he found an isolated, polluted, boiling hot hellhole. His wonderful tale is both hilarious and thrilling. This original adventure offers enjoyment and also allows renewed appreciation for your morning cup of coffee and warm shower.
While most memoirs speak of a situation a person finds himself or herself in, The Sex Lives of Cannibals is self-inflicted. Troost travels to a tiny island in the South Pacific and tells of his trials. I read this as a Peace Corps volunteer in a tropical climate and was extremely empathetic to the author's frustrations and angst toward the locals, climate, and lack of good beer. The Sex Lives of Cannibals rivals the hilarity of Bill Bryson.
Synopses & Reviews
At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost—who had been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs—decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better.
The Sex Lives of Cannibals tells the hilarious story of what happens when Troost discovers that Tarawa is not the island paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles through relentless, stifling heat, a variety of deadly bacteria, polluted seas, toxic fish—all in a country where the only music to be heard for miles around is “La Macarena.” He and his stalwart girlfriend Sylvia spend the next two years battling incompetent government officials, alarmingly large critters, erratic electricity, and a paucity of food options (including the Great Beer Crisis); and contending with a bizarre cast of local characters, including “Half-Dead Fred” and the self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (a British drunkard whos never written a poem in his life).
With The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Maarten Troost has delivered one of the most original, rip-roaringly funny travelogues in years—one that will leave you thankful for staples of American civilization such as coffee, regular showers, and tabloid news, and that will provide the ultimate vicarious adventure.
"At 26, Troost followed his wife to Kiribati, a tiny island nation in the South Pacific. Virtually ignored by the rest of humanity (its erstwhile colonial owners, the Brits, left in 1979), Kiribati is the kind of place where dolphins frolic in lagoons, days end with glorious sunsets and airplanes might have to circle overhead because pigs occupy the island's sole runway. Troost's wife was working for an international nonprofit; the author himself planned to hang out and maybe write a literary masterpiece. But Kiribati wasn't quite paradise. It was polluted, overpopulated and scorchingly sunny (Troost could almost feel his freckles mutating into something 'interesting and tumorous'). The villages overflowed with scavengers and recently introduced, nonbiodegradable trash. And the Kiribati people seemed excessively hedonistic. Yet after two years, Troost and his wife felt so comfortable, they were reluctant to return home. Troost is a sharp, funny writer, richly evoking the strange, day-by-day wonder that became his life in the islands. One night, he's doing his best funky chicken with dancing Kiribati; the next morning, he's on the high seas contemplating a toilet extending off the boat's stern (when the ocean was rough, he learns, it was like using a bidet). Troost's chronicle of his sojourn in a forgotten world is a comic masterwork of travel writing and a revealing look at a culture clash. (June 8) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Okay, so Tarawa is less paradise than purgatory, but hang in there — Troost will lead you to paradise, too. Lives up to the billing as 'a travel, adventure, humor, memoir kind of book' — and a really good one, at that." Kirkus Reviews
Book News Annotation:
Just in case you want to exercise your inner Gauguin, Troost here presents about a hundred reasons why you should stay in the 'burbs. He spent two years on a tropical isle, only to discover that it was a lot like hell, minus the toilets. While contending with putrifying heat, seas so polluted even those of limited divinity could walk on them, diseases never encountered in the relatively calm environs of an ER, and (shudder) no coffee or beer, Troost also found the only music to be had for miles was "La Macarena." To this case study of the absurd, Troost actually adds a bibliography. He does not include an index, which is a pity because readers may actually want to find out how many times Troost had to put up with "Half-Dead Fred" and outbreaks of hepatitis A, B, and C.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
After racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs, author Troost decided the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the Earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better. This is his hilarious story.
The true story of how a quarter-life crisis led to adventure, freedom, and love on a tiny island in the Pacific.
From the author of a lot of emails and several facebook posts comes A Beginners Guide to Paradise, a laugh-out-loud, true story that will answer your most pressing escape-from-it-all questions, including:
1. How much, per pound, should you expect to pay a priest to fly you to the outer islands of Yap?
2. Classic slumber party stumper: If you could have just one movie on a remote Pacific island, what would it definitely not be?
3. How do you blend fruity drinks without a blender?
4. Is a free, one-hour class from Home Depot on Flowerbox Construction” sufficient training to build a house?
From Robinson Crusoe to Survivor, Gilligans Island to The Beach, people have fantasized about living on a remote tropical island. But when facing a quarter-life crisis, plucky desk slave Alex Sheshunoff actually did it.
While out in Paradise, he learned a lot. About how to make big choices and big changes. About the less-than-idyllic parts of paradise. About tying a loincloth without exposing the tender bits. Now, Alex shares his incredible story and pretty-hard-won wisdom in a book that will surprise you, make you laugh, take you to such unforgettable islands as Yap and Pig, and perhaps inspire your own move to an island with only two letters in its name.
Answers: 1) $1.14 2) Gas Attack Training Made Simple 3) Crimp a fork in half and insert middle into power drill 4) No.
About the Author
J. MAARTEN TROOSTs essays have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Post, and the Prague Post. He spent two years in Kiribati in the Equatorial Pacific and upon his return was hired as a consultant by the World Bank. After several years in Fiji, he recently relocated to the U.S. and now lives with his wife and son in California.
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