Alyce from At Home With Books features one of her favorite reads each Thursday and this week my pick is…
The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift on the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost.
From the back cover: At the age of twenty-six, Maarten Troost – who has 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 tale 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 head 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 for 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).
I haven’t read many travelogue type books but, of all the ones I have read, this one was probably the funniest. Troost takes situations that would make most people what to run (and possibly cry) and turns them into very funny stories. I remember laughing out loud while reading this book. Now, if you’re looking for something that’s going to give you a history of the island, it’s natives, etc. this probably isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a funny book that recounts a new living experience on the part of the author, this one’s a good read. When I finished, I can’t say that I added Kiribati to my list of places I would like to visit in this world, but it did make me want to travel.