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The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific [Paperback]

J. Maarten Troost
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 8 2004
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.

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The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific + Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu + Lost on Planet China: One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation
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From Publishers Weekly

At 26, Troost followed his wife to Kiribati, a tiny island nation in the South Pacific. Virtually ignored by the rest of humanity (its erstwhile colonial owners, the Brits, left in 1979), Kiribati is the kind of place where dolphins frolic in lagoons, days end with glorious sunsets and airplanes might have to circle overhead because pigs occupy the island's sole runway. Troost's wife was working for an international nonprofit; the author himself planned to hang out and maybe write a literary masterpiece. But Kiribati wasn't quite paradise. It was polluted, overpopulated and scorchingly sunny (Troost could almost feel his freckles mutating into something "interesting and tumorous"). The villages overflowed with scavengers and recently introduced, nonbiodegradable trash. And the Kiribati people seemed excessively hedonistic. Yet after two years, Troost and his wife felt so comfortable, they were reluctant to return home. Troost is a sharp, funny writer, richly evoking the strange, day-by-day wonder that became his life in the islands. One night, he's doing his best funky chicken with dancing Kiribati; the next morning, he's on the high seas contemplating a toilet extending off the boat's stern (when the ocean was rough, he learns, it was like using a bidet). Troost's chronicle of his sojourn in a forgotten world is a comic masterwork of travel writing and a revealing look at a culture clash.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Although accustomed to globe trotting, Troost and his wife, Sylvia, were truly innocents abroad when they moved to the island of Tarawa in the South Pacific, where Sylvia had accepted a government position. Tarawa is the capital of Kiribati--a republic of tiny atolls located just above the equator--and the place where Troost's dreams of paradise were shattered. Although Tarawa has much to offer, such as stultifying heat, dogged bureaucracy, toxic water, La Macarena, and the fantastic rituals of the I-Kiribati people, it lacks running water, television, restaurants, air-conditioning, and, the most crucial amenity, beer. Culture shock ensued for Maarten and Sylvia, and he chronicles their two years on Tarawa in a hilarious, sardonic travelogue. Among the more memorable episodes is the time a simple fishing trip turns into a hunt for a giant thresher shark and when Troost blasts a Miles Davis CD to combat the incessant repetition of La Macarena. Troost's mystified admiration for the I-Kiribati people shines through it all, and readers learn how humor itself can be a necessary tool for survival. Jerry Eberle
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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One day, I moved with my girlfriend Sylvia to an atoll in the Equatorial Pacific. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! Couldn't put it down July 16 2004
By A Customer
I've never ventured into the genre of travel narratives before, and this book was a wonderful start. I just couldn't put the book down. Mr. Troost discuss his 2 years in Kiribati with his girlfriend, Sylvia, as they adjust to a life vastly different from that in the US. Each chapter provides a humourous anecdote about their experiences, from interactions with natives to near death experiences at sea. What really makes the book wonderful is that you really feel like you get to know the author, and you feel like you are experiencing the torments and tribulations of island life with him. I do hope he writes more!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unique humor and very nice book! April 26 2011
By Luca73
I loved this book! The author has a very original humor and the book is extremely easy to read and very very amusing. Congratulations Maarten Troost. I also like the end of the book a lot and luckily he saves the country of Kiribati telling the reader that the outer islands are not like Tarawa...The only thing i didn't like was the phrase in the back cover that suggests that "Kiribati is possibly the worst place on earth" . Very offensive for the people of Kiribati. I sort of think that this phrase was not written by the author. The book is a masterpiece, an absolute Must-read
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Sex Lives of Cannibals April 8 2008
Thoroughly enjoyed this disrespectful saga of moving and then living in the Gilbert Islands. Love the sense of humour which is needed in Tarawa. If you want a chuckle, don't we all, of a modern day graduate from Washington, D.C., go along with him trying to swim in the lagoon, get water, get beer, it is really a hoot. I can just see Maarten riding his bicyle through Tarawa with a fresh fish hanging from his hand, followed by every mutt on the island trying to get it away from him. Enjoyed it. Will be reading his next book about Fiji. Keep on writing Maarten Troost.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great Read! Jan. 4 2005
I just finished reading this book and could not put it down. I wanted to tear through it and was sad when it was done! It made me want to run to an island to live....and made me never want to go near one! Very funny and well written.
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This book is an excellent read, especially on the beach or by the pool. I could'nt put it down. Troost takes you on a journey of delight and terror all with a great sense of humour. His 2 years on this tropical island of Kiribati in the middle of the South Pacific was far from tropical paradise with laugh out loud explanations of events. Cheers to Maarten!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very funny July 14 2004
This was a really funny, heart-warming book. The author has a very glib sense of humor and I can only hope we'll be reading more from him soon. Well done.
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