Monday, September 29, 2014

On Gilligan's Island

J. Maarten Troost's THE SEX LIFE OF CANNIBALS (2004) is pretty funny, even though there are no cannibals in it, and not much sex. You'll laugh out loud many times. It's a funnier, better, longer book than his GETTING STONED WITH SAVAGES, which I reviewed here a couple of weeks ago.
Yes, in this case, bigger is better....
One of the reasons it's a better book is because it's clear that Troost and his beguiling wife Sylvia came to love the Pacific island of Tarawa during the two years they lived there -- despite the blistering heat, the iffy electrical supply, always having to boil the water for drinking, the limited options for food, having almost no communication with the outside world, and not knowing when they might stumble over someone ... uh ... well ... taking a dump off the edge of the reef.
Troost makes Tarawa -- one of the most remote islands in the Pacific, a tiny coral atoll with one road -- sound like hell at first. And then he and his wife adjust to it -- the friendly people, the gorgeous colors, the extremely laid-back lifestyle. They get used to Doing Without. They learn to relax away from civilization. They become almost like natives.
So much so, that by the end of the book -- when they head back to Washington, D.C. ... they can't take it. And they end up going back to the Pacific -- to Vanuatu and Fiji, where they have more adventures as described in GETTING STONED WITH SAVAGES.
Barring having to eat canned corned beef, almost getting killed in an ugly Pacific storm, taking his life into his own hands whenever flying on the island airline, the non-stop 100-degree heat, and random shark encounters, Troost almost makes Tarawa sound heavenly. You almost want to go there -- which I'm sure he wouldn't recommend.
But from the clear look you get at the island and its people through this book, it's obvious Maarten loved the place. Even when they ran out of beer for a couple of weeks.
And now I see he has a book out about China....

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