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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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Product Description

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
Format:Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What does the reviewer at "Island" magazine know? June 29 2004
Format:Paperback
The answer: nothing. I was flipping through the book reviews in "Island" one day and came upon a review of this book. I guess the "Island" editor wasn't impressed. He basically said the book was okay and compared its author to a "second-rate Dave Barry."
Luckily I decided to check the book out for myself. Turns out the reviewer for "Islands" magazine wouldn't know a great read if one walked up and smacked him on the behind.
This is dedicated beach reading. I took the book with me to Gulf Shores last week and laughed aloud many times on the beach as I read it (almost in one sitting). Great style, great attention to details, great in capturing the maddening essence of living in a paradise gone mad.
Fans of tropic-themed tomes (you know who you are) will love this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ah! Theres a bug on you! July 11 2004
Format:Paperback
I think the author used the title just to grab our attention. Duh! Of course there aren't any cannibals in the book--you can tell if you read the back cover. This is a humorous, fascinating look into an island who is responding---or not, to Americanization. Its a look into how a modern young, educated couple could survive in the Tropics, if they really could persevere. I don't know if I could've made it through all that the author and his beloved Sylvia could have. The trials and tribulations they go through are just----winsome. Its like an anthropology lesson and a comic book; the author has done his research and has also maintained a respect for his subject.
This book is "light" meaning that you can easily read it and enjoy it at the pool or at the beach. I recommend an outside setting when you read it. It adds to the ambiance that is set up.
I recommend this story---and look forward to more if the author feels duty bound to write another in say, 10 years or so. Its an unusual type of book, but its worth the read. I'm sharing it with my friends and family!
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Format:Paperback
This is a very funny and irreverant set of stories about Mr. Troost's two years of living on the island of Kiribati.
One of my students asked to discuss some of the items in the chapter on government. I read this chapter and then bought the book. While the first two or three chapters were slow, I couldn't put this book down for the other 20.
Many of the points Troost makes about island life could apply to quite a number of other pacific islands. He doesn't provide any suggestions on how islanders could improve (refreshing given the large number of bad suggestions these nations have had over the years)and he sticks to relating snapshots of his life in and around the island.
This is a fun book to read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining view of the other side of paradise July 6 2004
Format:Paperback
This book is quite entertaining, and gives the reader a peek into the reality of the islands that used to be paradise. Western culture and civilization has rendered many of the tropical islands almost uninhabitable, and the author paints this picture clearly. I'm sure some liberties were taken in describing some circumstances. Even so, there is enough substance here to make you think of the situations described after a few chuckles wear off. My only complaint on the book is that the author seems to want to fit in complex language into the beginning of the book, but this subsides as the reader progresses.
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Format:Paperback
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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