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Synopses & Reviews
Welcome to the Hotel Honolulu, a down-at-the-heels tourist place that's two blocks from the beach on a back street in Waikiki, where middle America stays and dreams. Like the Canterbury pilgrims, every guest in this eighty-room hotel has come in search of something ? sun, love, happiness, unnamable longing ? and everyone has a story. Honeymooners, vacationers, wanderers, mythomaniacs, soldiers, and families all land at the Hotel Honolulu. But the hotel is as suited to being a crime scene as a love nest. Fortunately, our keen-eyed narrator, a writer down on his luck, is there to relate all the comings and goings. He's lost money, friends, house, and family, and he has no experience running a hotel. But all that doesn't stop Buddy, the bloated, boozy hotel owner ? the last of a dying breed ? from signing him on as manager. It isn't long before the hotel expands to encompass the narrator's whole world. His original plan of escape from a life of the mind becomes something altogether different: a way to return to the world he left, the world of imagined life. No one but Paul Theroux could write this romp of a book, with its acutely drawn characters and canny insights into a place that is often viewed as a simple island paradise. In this unforgettable novel, Theroux shows us a funny, languid, louche floating world, island style. This is the essence of Hawaii as it has never been depicted, and it is also the heart of America.
"What makes Paul Theroux so good is what always separates the fine writers from the pack: his ability to look at the familiar in a fresh, original way - and make us richer for it." Philadelphia Inquirer
"If you can get past the false modesty of the narrator, whose allusions to his discarded fame only make him sound smug, there's wonder on every floor of the Hotel Honolulu." Kirkus Reviews
"Scrappy, satiric and frowsily exotic, this loosely constructed novel of debauchery and frustrated ambition in present-day Hawaii debunks the myth of the island as a vacationer's paradise....The lack of conventional plot and the dreariness of life at Hotel Honolulu make the narrative drag at times, but Theroux's ear and eye are as sharp as ever, his prose as clean and supple." Publisher's Weekly
"Although Paul Theroux's latest book bills itself as a novel, it proves to be another example of the self-reflexive whimsy that has come to dominate the author's work. The Theroux titles My Secret History and My Other Life could have served just as well for this effort, in which a fifty-something novelist (whose career bears a distinct resemblance to a certain Paul Theroux's) moves to Hawaii, where he abandons writing for a job as a hotel manager. In a narrative as laid-back as a riff of slack-key guitar, he marries the daughter of the in-house hooker and spends his days dealing with bumptious guests, enigmatic employees, and..." Stephen Amidon, Atlantic MOnthly (read Atlantic Monthly's entire review)
"Fawlty Towers goes darkly Hawaiian in this comic novel, in which the author uses the grotesque denizens of the title hostelry to explore the exoticism of ordinariness — or is it the other way around?" The New York Times Book Review, Summer Reading 2001 selection
In this wickedly satiric romp, Paul Theroux captures the essence of Hawaii as it has never been depicted. The novel's narrator, a down-on-his-luck writer, escapes to Waikiki and soon finds himself the manager of the Hotel Honolulu, a low-rent establishment a few blocks off the beach. Honeymooners, vacationers, wanderers, mythomaniacs, soldiers, and families all check in to the hotel. Like the Canterbury pilgrims, every guest has come in search of something — sun, love, happiness, objects of unnameable longing — and everyone has a story. By turns hilarious, ribald, tender, and tragic, HOTEL HONOLULU offers a unique glimpse of the psychological landscape of an American paradise.
Like the Canterbury pilgrims, every guest in the 88-room Hotel Honolulu has come in search of something and everyone has a story. In this unforgettable novel, Theroux reveals a funny, languid, louche floating world, island style--the essence of Hawaii as it has never been depicted.
About the Author
Paul Theroux was born and raised in Medford, Massachusetts, where he attended public schools (and was a classmate of Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City; both were Eagle Scouts). He graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a science major and intended to pursue a career in medicine, but his desire to travel and his passion to write derailed plans for a future Dr. Theroux.
Before Theroux became a professional writer he taught in various countries. His first job?and his best as a salaried employee?was as a lecturer in English at the University of Urbino in Italy. The university was housed in a duke's palace, and all of his students were young Italian women. This was in the summer of 1963. Six months later he was a Peace Corps teacher at a school in central Africa and was living in the bush. In 1965 Theroux was "terminated early" from the Peace Corps in Malawi for "engaging in politics." In reality, what he did was drive a friend's car from Malawi to Uganda?unfortunately, that friend had been forced to leave the country for siding with the opposition. For the next four years Theroux was a lecturer in English at Makerere University, in Kampala, Uganda, where he met and married his first wife. In 1968 he moved to Singapore and joined the English Department at the University of Singapore.
In 1967 Theroux's first novel, Waldo, was published. Late in 1971 he gave up teaching to write full time and moved to England, where he lived off and on for the next seventeen years.
Theroux virtually reinvented the genre of travel writing, beginning with The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia, published in 1975 by Houghton Mifflin. Since then he has dazzled critics and readers alike with books about his trips through China (Riding the Iron Rooster, Sailing Through China), Great Britain (The Kingdom by the Sea), India (The Imperial Way), Latin America (The Old Patagonian Express), the Pacific islands (The Happy Isles of Oceania), and the Mediterranean (The Pillars of Hercules).
In addition to his fourteen works of nonfiction and criticism, Theroux is the author of twenty-four novels, including Hotel Honolulu, Kowloon Tong, My Other Life, and Millroy the Magician. His novels Saint Jack, The Mosquito Coast, and Half Moon Street have been made into successful feature films, and he has won the prestigious Whitbread Prize for Picture Palace and the James Tait Black Award for The Mosquito Coast.
During his travels in the Pacific, Theroux came to love Hawaii. He is now married to a Hawaiian woman and they live in the woods on the North Shore of Oahu, among many birds and geese and bees, which form his apiary?Theroux is also a beekeeper. He spends summers on Cape Cod, not far from where he grew up.
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