Friday, February 3, 2012

Book Review: The Sex Lives of Cannibals

This travelogue/memoir by Maarten Troost is neither about sex nor cannibals, particularly, although both make an appearance on the island of Tarawa, where Troost and his partner, Sylvia, spend two years. Bored of life in America and anxious to make a difference in the world and have an adventure in the process. Sylvia and Maarten head off to this remote, romantic island paradise in the South Pacific.

Paradise, it is not. Romantic, rarely. But remote, absolutely. The beaches (AKA toilets) are polluted with an accumulation of historical trash and fresh trash. Diseases are rampant. Food is scarce. Electricity is sporadic. The natives find Sylvia and Maarten endlessly interesting. Mangy dogs—the cannibals—congregate in their back yard. Maarten has a love/hate relationship with Tarawa, but in the end he can see himself settling there forever--if he doesn't hurry up and leave.

This was our February book club pick and got very mixed reviews at our meeting. Four of us actually finished and thoroughly enjoyed the book. Two gave it up around Chapter 11, as the topic just did not appeal to them at all. The other four members just didn't have time to finish reading it, and two out of the four said they would for sure finish reading it, even though our meeting was over. So in all, over half our members really liked the book.

I think Maarten is an excellent writer and very, very funny. Astute, too, but without a biting sarcasm that so often weighs down travelogues in one way or another. I liked Maarten enough that I'd read his next book, Getting Stoned with Savages.

1 comment:

christa @ mental foodie said...

I read this back in 2008 and enjoyed it (that was before blogging days so I don't remember much.) Though It's definitely an eye opener that island living is not necessarily paradise!