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The Beach [Paperback]

Alex Garland
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (586 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 4 2004

The Khao San Road, Bangkok -- first stop for the hordes of rootless young Westerners traveling in Southeast Asia. On Richard's first night there, in a low-budget guest house, a fellow traveler slashes his wrists, bequeathing to Richard a meticulously drawn map to "the Beach."

The Beach, as Richard has come to learn, is the subject of a legend among young travelers in Asia: a lagoon hidden from the sea, with white sand and coral gardens, freshwater falls surrounded by jungle, plants untouched for a thousand years. There, it is rumored, a carefully selected international few have settled in a communal Eden.

Haunted by the figure of Mr. Duck -- the name by which the Thai police have identified the dead man -- and his own obsession with Vietnam movies, Richard sets off with a young French couple to an island hidden away in an archipelago forbidden to tourists. They discover the Beach, and it is as beautiful and idyllic as it is reputed to be. Yet over time it becomes clear that Beach culture, as Richard calls it, has troubling, even deadly, undercurrents.

Spellbinding and hallucinogenic, The Beach by Alex Garland -- both a national bestseller and his debut -- is a highly accomplished and suspenseful novel that fixates on a generation in their twenties, who, burdened with the legacy of the preceding generation and saturated by popular culture, long for an unruined landscape, but find it difficult to experience the world firsthand.


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Product Description

From Amazon

In our ever-shrinking world, where popular Western culture seems to have infected every nation on the planet, it is hard to find even a small niche of unspoiled land--forget searching for pristine islands or continents. This is the situation in Alex Garland's debut novel, The Beach. Human progress has reduced Eden to a secret little beach near Thailand. In the tradition of grand adventure novels, Richard, a rootless traveler rambling around Thailand on his way somewhere else, is given a hand-drawn map by a madman who calls himself Daffy Duck. He and two French travelers set out on a journey to find this paradise.

What makes this a truly satisfying novel is the number of levels on which it operates. On the surface it's a fast-paced adventure novel; at another level it explores why we search for these utopias, be they mysterious lost continents or small island communes. Garland weaves a gripping and thought-provoking narrative that suggests we are, in fact, such products of our Western culture that we cannot help but pollute and ultimately destroy the very sanctuary we seek --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Garland's amphetamine-paced first novel plunks some young European expats down on a remote island in the Gulf of Thailand. There, tired of the prepackaged experience available to them in the West, they try to create their own paradise. The narrator is an Englishman named Richard. Born in 1974, he has grown up on popular culture and is a fan of video games and Vietnam War movies. While staying at a creaky Bangkok guest house, he finds a carefully drawn map left by his angry, doped-up neighbor, a suicide who called himself Mr. Daffy Duck. The map points the way to a legendary beach where, it's rumored, a few favored international wanderers have settled. Richard's new friends, Etienne and Francoise, convince him to help them find the island. But Richard, inspired by sudden anxiety about Etienne, gives a copy of the map to two American backpackers-an act that later haunts him as keenly as the ghost of Mr. Duck. Richard and his French companions find the island: half is covered by a marijuana plantation patrolled by well-armed guards; the other half consists of a gorgeous beach and forest where a small band of wandering souls live a communal life dominated by a gently despotic woman named Sal. At times, Garland seems to be trying to say something powerful about the perils of desiring a history-less Eden. But his evocations of Vietnam, Richard's hallucinatory chats with the dead Mr. Duck and various other feints in the direction of thematic gravity don't add up to much. Garland is a good storyteller, though, and Richard's nicotine-fueled narrative of how the denizens of the beach see their comity shatter and break into factions is taut with suspense, even if the bloody conclusion offers few surprises. 150,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; foreign rights sold in the U.K., Germany, Holland, Italy.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The first I heard of the beach was in Bangkok, on the Ko Sanh Road. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss It! June 25 2005
Format:Paperback
The Beach is Alex Garland's amazing first novel. Visionary and disturbing, this book is a must read.
Richard is a traveler from Europe who leaves everything behind him after being jilted by a lover. While in Thailand he meets a man who leaves him a map to a paradise beach. After deciding to share this treasure with two fellow travelers, they set off.
The journey to the beach is difficult for it is illegal for foreigners to go there, but after buying off a man who owns a boat and swimming a considerable distance they make it to the island. Before they even have time to enjoy their discovery, however, they land into danger when they discover that the island is used as sort of a mega-greenhouse for marijuana. They still decide to press on, though and after some time they find the fabled beach. A bit disappointed at first, they eventually grow to love the beach and the entire community of people they find living there. Integrating into the lifestyle there is done very quickly and before they know it, months have passed. Their languid, carefree lifestyle lulls them into a sense of false security, though, and they find themselves unprepared for the disasters that lay ahead.
Filled with pop culture references and very violent imagery this book may best appeal to the twenty-something generation. In a way that's a shame, though, because the story behind all of the icons and imagery is intense and enjoyable. At times the story gets almost too disgusting and graphic but none of it is gratuitous since it is all important to the plot.
I heavily recommend this book to all of the members of my generation and I also hope some of the younger and older generations will give it a chance too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss It! May 9 2005
Format:Paperback
The Beach is Alex Garland's amazing first novel. Visionary and disturbing, this book is a must read.
Richard is a traveler from Europe who leaves everything behind him after being jilted by a lover. While in Thailand he meets a man who leaves him a map to a paradise beach. After deciding to share this treasure with two fellow travelers, they set off.
The journey to the beach is difficult for it is illegal for foreigners to go there, but after buying off a man who owns a boat and swimming a considerable distance they make it to the island. Before they even have time to enjoy their discovery, however, they land into danger when they discover that the island is used as sort of a mega-greenhouse for marijuana. They still decide to press on, though and after some time they find the fabled beach. A bit disappointed at first, they eventually grow to love the beach and the entire community of people they find living there. Integrating into the lifestyle there is done very quickly and before they know it, months have passed. Their languid, carefree lifestyle lulls them into a sense of false security, though, and they find themselves unprepared for the disasters that lay ahead.
Filled with pop culture references and very violent imagery this book may best appeal to the twenty-something generation. In a way that's a shame, though, because the story behind all of the icons and imagery is intense and enjoyable. At times the story gets almost too disgusting and graphic but none of it is gratuitous since it is all important to the plot.
I heavily recommend this book to all of the members of my generation and I also hope some of the younger and older generations will give it a chance too.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent novel July 7 2004
Format:Paperback
I was highly suspicious of reading The Beach, having heard of it being 'a great film with De Caprio in it'. Not being a fan of Leonardo (this was before he starred in Catch me If you Can' etc etc.), I was going to give this a miss, before I got stuck in an aeroport and was forced to read it.
Garland creates beautiful scenery, great scenes of psychological and mental exploration, while touching on the ideas of the past, peace and ostricisation. The main character can be seen in many different lights; as both an idiot and a hero, as insane or perfectly normal, driven by a force stronger than himself.
So why not five stars?
In parts of the book, Garland does tend to drag out the sequences with Mr. Duck (read to understand!), and at the end I found myself wondering about what certain characters were actually like; his development of the background characters could have been better.
Despite these downfalls, Garland creates an excellent, fast-paced novel with an extremely sinister and well created ending. Definately worth a read
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5.0 out of 5 stars the Bible for Backpackers Feb. 19 2004
Format:Paperback
Thousands of people every year throw all of their earthly possessions into a dirty backpack and hop onto a plane to end up in some magical destination where they can forget all of their troubles, and forget about their real lives. People go to Europe, or Australia, or the Far East to get lost and found all at the same time. And for most of these people, their only goal is do have the chance at doing something that nobody else has ever done before.
"The Beach" is the story of Richard, a disillussioned Brit headed for Thailand because travel really is an escape for him. Once there, he meets a strange man named Daffy Duck, who explains to him a story about a beach, completely protected from the ocean, where everything is perfect. Aware that he is hearing Eden described to him, Richard recruits his new French friends, Etienne and Francoise, to go on an adventure, and try to find this beach that is more legend than reality. The pace at which Alex Garland writes is similar to that of an adventure novel, and at face value, that is exactly how you could interpret "The Beach". But it is more than that, and it seems to be much more to those who have travelled.
When the beach is found, it is a chance for everyone to start again, to create their own little world where there are not the usual problems. This is a utopia, surrounded by some of Mother Nature's best work, and some good people willing to make life on the beach possible.
Garland writes in many cultural references, including many quotes from "Apocalypse Now" and endless references to Game Boy games. This gives the book enough touches of reality that there is a small part in your brain wondering if such a place could actually exist.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless!
This is one of my favourite books! A definite read for those about to embark on the backpacker trail.
Published 1 month ago by nicholas
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!
I had a hard time getting into the book, but once the story line got better i finished it in a cpl of days, great story! this book is way better then the movie, read it!
Published 7 months ago by naomi bir
5.0 out of 5 stars Alex Garlands "The Beach"
If you have seen the film it isn't nearly as good as the book, this is a must read. Highly recommended.
Published 12 months ago by W.M Walls
5.0 out of 5 stars Attempted Utopia
There is something about ‘attempted’ utopia stories that best reveal what animals we human beings are. When you strip away the laws and rules of society what do we become? Read more
Published 24 months ago by Capital
5.0 out of 5 stars the beach!
This book is perfect for those who love the taste of adventure. Even if you've seen the movie, the book gives you a glimpse of things that failed to be highlighted in the... Read more
Published on July 31 2012 by stephm
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best ending...
I loved this book from start to almost finish. I found it a lot better than the movie. Having seen the movie before reading the book, I enjoyed that it gave me something extra to... Read more
Published on March 11 2011 by Robyn C
4.0 out of 5 stars The Beach by Alex Garland
This book is great wether you are just looking for a good story or something with a little more substance. It won me over with a beautiful, deeper message. Read more
Published on July 5 2010 by Miki Lea
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
Great read, I enjoyed it. I never really considered reading the book after watching the movie two or three times over the years. Read more
Published on June 30 2010 by Beer and Nachos
2.0 out of 5 stars MISSING 30 PAGES/BUT AMAZING LITERATURE!!
This book was by far the most amazing book i read. intriguing and well written. Only problem was the book i ordered of here was missing 33 pages! Read more
Published on June 22 2009 by S. Hamer
1.0 out of 5 stars JUST PLAIN BAD
This is without a doubt one of the most boring books I have ever read. I only kept reading it because I thought it would get interesting at some point. It never did. Read more
Published on May 24 2004 by Jorge F. M
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