Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Favorite Reads: The Sex Lives of Cannibals

My Favorite Reads
Each week I am featuring one of my favorite reads from the past. April is National Humor Month, so all humor books for the next five weeks! (April is a 5-Thursday month). This week is:
The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost

Summary (from the publisher):

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 who’s 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.

Why I chose this book:
Simply put, my former boss had highly recommended it.

Quite fun! I can see the comparison but as usual, I think everyone else is a pale comparison to Bill Bryson. However, Maarten Troost might well be the closest. This book managed to make me both really wish I could go to the South Pacific, and really glad I'm not there. Sylvia I didn't get much a feel for, but the glimpses of her were also funny as she seems to be a straightforward, no-crap kind of woman. The running theme of Mr. Maarten's novel (still unwritten to this day) was also amusing. The names of the locals were very difficult to decipher to the point where even at the end of the book I wasn't sure who was who, but that wasn't really important. I think the book could have used a glossary, for even when Mr. Troost explained what a lavalava was, it was 50 pages later when I had forgotten and was hunting for the explanation that I thought all these foreign words could have stood the glossary treatment. I loved the chapter headers, which were obviously an homage to 18th-century writing a la Stevenson. I was looking for a funny book where nothing bad happened that would make me laugh, and this fit the bill 100%.


Sherrie said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I'll have to check this one out. Have a great day!

Just Books

Alyce said...

I have heard a lot of good things about this book, and since I like a good travelogue I'm pretty sure it's one I'd love.