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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 the Hardcover edition.
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; $150,000 ad/promo; foreign rights sold in the U.K., Germany, Holland, Italy.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Great book! Have read it multiple times. Recommended for anyone who loves travel and adventure.Published 10 months ago by Fat$
I found this book very well written, I couldn't put it down, I rarely take the time to read however I truly recommend this bookPublished 10 months ago by Brian
This is one of my favourite books! A definite read for those about to embark on the backpacker trail.Published 13 months ago by nicholas
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 20 months ago by naomi bir
If you have seen the film it isn't nearly as good as the book, this is a must read. Highly recommended.Published on Aug. 26 2013 by W.M Walls
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 morePublished on July 31 2012 by stephm
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 morePublished on July 5 2010 by Miki Lea
Great read, I enjoyed it. I never really considered reading the book after watching the movie two or three times over the years. Read morePublished on June 30 2010 by Beer and Nachos