Read The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost Simon Vance Maarten J. Troost Online

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At age twenty-six, Maarten Troost decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to a remote South Pacific island. The idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better. This book tells the hilarious story of what happens when he discovers that the island is not the paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amAt age twenty-six, Maarten Troost decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to a remote South Pacific island. The idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better. This book tells the hilarious story of what happens when he discovers that the island is not the paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles with stifling heat, deadly bacteria, and polluted seas in a country where the only music to be heard is "La Macarena." He and his girlfriend, Sylvia, contend with incompetent officials, alarmingly large critters, a paucity of food options (including the Great Beer Crisis), and bizarre local characters, including "Half-Dead Fred" and the so-called Poet Laureate of Tarawa, a British drunkard who's never written a poem in his life....

Title : The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific
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ISBN : 9781433201769
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The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific Reviews

  • Petra X
    2018-12-06 13:16

    This book is like a sandwich. The first piece of dry bread is Troost smirkingly telling us that he is just too good, clever and unique to have to actually work and pay bills, like the rest of us. In the final, dry chapter he tells us just how superior he feels to the idiots who over-pay and over-respect him for his newly acquired job that he knows nothing at all about. He wants to return to the life of a house-husband on a tropical island, supported by his wife while he floats in the blue waters of the lagoon and procrastinates about writing a book.Surprisingly, the filling of this sandwich is very tasty. He relates the history of Kiribati and the day-to-day life of a foreigner willingly marooned on a tiny tropical island in an amusing and somewhat spicy, biting fashion. Its very entertaining and - with the concise history - informative.Troost, though, fails to penetrate the surface of the island life. He forever moans the 'golden age' he presumes the island must have been in before he and his ilk brought the outside world, the developed world, to the South Pacific. He presumes that the islanders are much degraded now in the poverty of their subsistence existence compared to the life they must have lived in this imagined 'golden age', often described elsewhere as 'the noble savage'. I don't like to bring race into it, but why, why, why do white men (and it is always whites) go to an island to skim the cream off the milk, earn salaries three times that of locals, insist on importing as many of the appurtenances of modern life as their luggage - or container - can hold and are then surprised when the local people would also like to have easy-to-prepare food, disposable nappies, pretty clothes and all those other items that we take for granted?How do I know this so good? Because I live on a tiny tropical island myself. I have the pictures from my grandparents of the 'golden age' and I myself arrived before much modern development. The island has about 10% British and American folks on it. They mostly mix with each other (and local politicans and bigwigs who have travelled and understand how to behave at a cocktail party and whose children attend the American school - fees per month more than the average local income). The non-working partner generally joins some charity, mostly for the social life, the Reef Keepers, National Parks, Coastal Development et al that raise money at balls, art shows and $100 a head dinners, and seek to pressure outside agencies and local government into restricting further progress. All of them are devoted to keeping the island just as it was when they arrived or even taking it back further and bugger what the locals want. After all, how would such an uneducated, primitive people really be able to decide what is best for themselves? Troot's only descriptions of the bustling town on Tarawa are brief and of a degraded, open-sewer, corrupt kind of existence. Does he really think the people live like that, is there no vibrance and ambition there? There are no descriptions at all of their working lives, of the education, of their ambitions, or even of courtship and marriage. He is very selective indeed about the cultural aspects of island-life he describes. Troost is as patronising as the ex-pats are on my island with their old-colonial attitudes now so out of place and out of time.I would probably not want to read Maarten Troost's other book on Fiji, written while he was again a house-husband and before he relocated to the truly golden life of California. However, when his columns for Atlantic Monthly and the Washington Post are inevitably collected into a slim volume without the verbiage of a full-length book, I would definitely buy it. Small, appetizing bites can be even tastier than a full-scale meal.

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2018-11-21 12:56

    ”There is no place on Earth where color has been rendered with such intense depth, from the first light of dawn illuminating a green coconut frond to the last ray of sunset, when the sky is reddened to biblical proportions. And the blue...have you seen just how blue blue can get in the equatorial Pacific? In comparison, Picasso’s blue period seems decidedly ash-gray.”That look on Angel Fernandez de Soto for some reason reminds me of MaartenWhen Maarten Troost’s girlfriend Sylvia comes home and asks him if he wants to move to a remote Pacific island it took him about three seconds to take stock of his life, and realize this was the best offer he’d ever had. They pack, mostly the wrong things, and before you can say Robinson Crusoe find themselves on the island of Tarawa in the Republic of Kiribati. Now there are few issues you may have with Troost. First this title, though catchy and even giggle worthy, has nothing to do with the book. We do not meet cannibals in this book nor do we learn about cannibals in this book, and even more disappointing we don’t get an “insiders” look at the sex lives of such beastly people. So those of you, hopefully there are not many, who are looking for some information on a lifestyle revolving around the consumption of LONG PIG this is not the book for you. Although I’m sure Troost, his editor, and his publisher may have had a few belly laughs over this bit of tongue in cheek fraud. Second, for me this concept would have been a bit more impressive if Troost is escaping the rigorous of a working life. If he had been slogging away at some dead end corporate job, like many of the rest of us, and had chucked it all for the back to nature, finding himself, adventure. He is more than a little smug about his life, pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life which is code to me for “I’m living off someone else”. My stiff-neck over this issue dissolved as I found myself chuckling frequently, maybe somewhat maliciously so, over his hapless adventures.Third towards the end of the book Maarten is hired as a consultant for the World Bank. He is ludicrously overpaid and spends many pages talking about how idiotic these people were for hiring him. (I couldn’t disagree with him.) I could feel that stiff-neck coming back. He bragged about the elevated lifestyle that he and his now wife Sylvia were enjoying while thumbing his nose at his employers for giving it to him. It sounded to me like he could have helped a lot of people in need if he had taken the job more seriously; and maybe he did, and this is all just him building up this persona of himself as a ne’er-do-well. Maybe I just need my neck rubbed by some lovely polynesian women. Two Tahitian Women with Mango Blossoms by Paul Gauguin.Troost can wax nostalgic about all the blues and the greens, but there are also absolutely disgusting eyesores in paradise. They take a walk on the small atoll of Majuro which is North of the island of Tarawa. ”There is a filthy fringe of beach that recedes into soppy mud before disappearing into a lifeless lagoon. On the ocean side of the atoll there is a gray and barren reef shelf stained with what from a distance look like large, whitish-brownish polyps that on closer inspection turn out to be used diapers, resting there under the high sun while awaiting an outgoing tide.”Eeuuwh!Once Maarten and Sylvia settle into Tarawa there are some fundamental problems that generally people living in civilization don’t have to deal with on a daily basis. The island has been in a drought and it isn’t long before they run out of water. Their main diet is fish, and given the nature of fish to decompose even quicker in this climate, food has to be procured every day. So Maarten instead of lazing around in a hammock all day long finds himself pedaling his bike furiously about the island trying to keep the two of them in food and water. ( I rather enjoyed reading about Maarten having to pull his own weight in this regard.) Fish is supplemented every so often by a ship from Australia offloading all the dented cans and conceptually unappealing food that the population of Australia refused to eat. *Shiver*It doesn’t take long before those dented cans start to look like gourmet food to Maarten. They have Peeping Tom issues, some of whom carry rather wicked looking machetes. The lovely; and of course, exotically caucasian visage of Sylvia was of endless fascination to the Kiribati male population. They were quite content to sit outside her window and watch her... read. Flattering, I’m sure, for about thirty seconds, and then progressively creepier as the minutes tick by. The biggest problem that Maarten faced was one that followed him everywhere...the ceaseless sweating. ”I could either melt into an oozing puddle, drop by drop--a slow, torturous death, for certain--or I could ease my suffering with a swim in the world’s largest backyard pool, thereby risking life and limb to the schools of sharks that were, and I sensed this strongly, circling at reef’s edge, awaiting a meal featuring the other-other white meat.”Is it wrong to root for the sharks? Little does Maarten know there are LARGER, more TREACHEROUS things in the water. ”And then I saw what confronted me. It rested directly between myself and shore. It was massive. I had never seen anything like it. I sensed its power. I became very, very frightened.It was an enormous brown bottom.The possessor, a giant of a man, was squatting in the shadows, holding on to a ledge of coral rock. He emitted. He emitted some more. He was like a stricken oil tanker, oozing brown sludge. When he was done, he wiped himself with sticks. Not leaves. Sticks. Small branches. Twigs. And then they were coming my way. Riding the ebbing tide., the sticks homed in on me. I became the North Star for shit-encrusted sticks. Whichever way I moved, and I was moving very quickly these sticks seemed to follow. They were closing in. I began to curse. In Dutch. This only happens when something primal is stirred. Podverdomme!His curse word makes more sense to me if you replace the P with a G, but I’m not a Dutch speaker. Okay so I laughed again the whole time I was typing this quote into this review maybe because I feel our hero, Maarten, could use some “crap” thrown his way. Troost does give us some background on how the 19th century slave trade impacted the Kiribati. The men were first considered most valuable to work on plantations all over the Pacific, but soon the beautiful young women were sought after even more than the men for purposes that does not require much imagination to figure out. After laws were passed, and were beginning to be enforced the same type of men as the slavers came around inducing men and women to leave the islands for very low pay. This period of time is called the Pacific Labor Trade. Over 70% of the people living on these islands left for what they hoped was a better. Most never returned and not because they found wealth and comfort working for white men. We meet a cast of colorful characters, of which, my favorite was Half Dead Fred. After living on the island of the Long Knives for nineteen years past the day his visa expired, the government, inexplicably, decides that it is time to enforce his removal from their country. He had numerous wives and a profitable business. The prospect of being dropped back into the middle of American culture is frankly terrifying to him. ”Half-Dead Fred had earned his moniker. He was so wasted in appearance that in comparison a cadaver would seem plump and rosy-cheeked. Tall and gangly with a long salt-and-pepper beard, Half-Dead Fred looked much as I imagined Robinson Crusoe would look had Robinson Crusoe been marooned for a few years longer. He wore a pair of shorts that anywhere else would have long been discarded or put to use as rags.”Okay, so admittedly, I had issues with Troost. The only reason he bobbed back up on my radar is because he recently released a travel book which has something to do with Robert Louis Stevenson. So far the reviews of Headhunters on My Doorstep: A True Treasure Island Ghost Story are not encouraging. Again the title seems to have little to do with the subject matter of the book. His writing style is engaging and as I mentioned earlier he did make me chuckle more than once. This is a *** star book with a bump to ***½ for entertainment value.

  • Jason Koivu
    2018-12-10 13:53

    That right there my friends is a dangerous title. Why? Because it's misleading. Let me explain...Go to Youtube, find a video with a hyperbolic title - one that promises the BEST, MOST EXCITING, FUNNIEST of whatever the content is - watch it and if it doesn't live up to the billing see what the viewers say about it in the comment section and check out the ratio of "likes" and "dislikes". A few samplings of that will clearly and quickly display why a misleading title is a bad idea.Sure, a title like The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific has the eye-catch-ability to sell more copies, but it will disappoint when the reader discovers there's no sex and no cannibals! Hell, the author isn't even adrift! He's on a bloody island! J. Maarten Troost may be a lying sack of shit*, but he's also a funny guy. And a good sense of humor is necessary when you find yourself put in a situation and place that does not meet your expectations...or anyone's expectations for that matter. Nothing earth-shattering happens in this light travel journal, which is another reason a writer with humor is important. It's something to keep the readers eyes moving forward, and that's important because the book can be a bit of an eye-opener for those of us completely unfamiliar with life in the Pacific Islands of today with its inhabitants' love of Spam and horrible pop music...well actually, a single horrible pop song...and who'd want to miss that?! * I kid, I kid. My insults and outrage are, in and of themselves, hyperbolic. THUMBS DOWN!!!

  • Gretchen
    2018-11-13 19:51

    Having lived in the exact same equatorial Pacific nation at the exact same time as the author, I feel an unprecedented connection to this book. I loved it and was a little bit bothered by it at the same time. Mostly I cracked up laughing the whole time, as if it was a book of inside jokes between the author and me, as he described the exact things that I experienced there: everything from the toilet with a unique ocean view on the Martha to Kiribati bureacracy. The part of me that loves Kiribati and the people there as a second home and family were a little bit embarrassed, in the "I can make fun of my family, but no one else better" kind of way, but overall I think the author (whom I think I met one time at dinner at the Otintai Hotel one night) showed appropriate respect. Having lived there longer and being more fluent in the language than the author, I also was in a position to notice a few errors and a few places where I think he doesn't realize that he was treated a certain way because of the culture. Those few things aside, I loved it. It made me at once homesick and amused. I'm glad he wrote it, because I don't know that I could have.

  • Eh?Eh!
    2018-12-08 17:12

    First of all, this is a very misleading title. There were no sexytimes or people eating.If you ask people what they enjoy doing, what they love, what's necessary, many will list "travel." But what does that mean? Flying somewhere with an itinerary to spend a few nights in a 5 star hotel with continental breakfast? Living out of a backpack and wearing through your shoes? It's such a blobby answer, "travel."There was a brief period where I had cable and in that brief period I watched maybe 2 episodes of Daria. One was about some advertising woman who tried to be a teenager and have a finger on the pulse of that crowd. She dressed in age-inappropriate clothing and most of all, used slang that meant nothing. Daria's dad would go pop-eyed with rage at the inanity of her speech, "Jiggy??? What does it mean?!?!?!"In the movie Miss Congeniality, there's a very funny sequence about how to answer the judges when they ask you what you want most, or would give anything for. Our heroine, undercover agent Sandra Bullock, is coached to say "world peace" and there's a montage of other contestants saying "world peace." She answers honestly, something about 'harsher punishment for parole violations,' but at the unhappy expressions on the judges' faces, tacked on the standard "...and, world peace."Jiggy and world peace, overused to the point of meaninglessness, like travel. Well? What does that mean?I sat next to a Dutchman on a short flight this summer and we talked about career, family, and pastimes. His father had recently passed away and when he spoke about regrets, the things forever unsaid, he leaned forward in the too-small space, hands open as if pleading, voice very animated with inflections and volume changes, eye contact that allowed me to note his were very blue. When he spoke of travel, he got the same way. But when he spoke of travel, as important as it was to him, he couldn't explain very well what he meant. He did that thing where people start a sentence then trail off, expecting you to fill in the significant blanks with an "ahhh" of agreement.Why does "travel" make people incoherent and blank? I think one of the best reasons is that going places is an important part of understanding the size of the world, how big and at the same time small it can be and that people are people the world over. It's like how my dad will rage about Japan and the Japanese but when meeting one in person, he'll be so friendly that my head spins. If you're awake and aware, it helps you be less...selfish. Ugh. I can't find the way to say what I want to say. World peace, man.Anyway, travel. I guess everyone has a different conception of what it involves. To bring it back to the book, I doubt anyone can disagree that what this dude did was Travel. What a terrific book! Because he's a Dutchman, I heard my blue-eyed Dutchman's voice in my mind as I read this. Delicious. :) He and his girlfriend decide they want to go somewhere, anywhere. She gets a position in a tiny Pacific island and he tags along. I've seen some reviews where people think he's a slacker who took advantage in order to do nothing, but I don't think it's any different from all the wives who followed their husbands around, like with the military or other business that transplant their managers. What does it matter that she worked and he kept house/played/tried to write a book? If they were fine with it, cool. It's the new millenium and sometimes the women are the breadwinners.They live there for a couple years. Capital T, travel. No television, barely any radio (he has to experiment to find out the 10 minutes where he'll get BBC clearly enough to hear), only old magazines and whatever new visitors bring along. Holy cow, it sounds simultaneously awful and wonderfully immersive. They have critters, different foods, lots of gastrointestinal distress, crap everywhere, cultural stereotypes and expectations upended. It's Travel.He writes of his experiences and impressions. It's entertaining and informative. There's whining and yet, it doesn't grate. I learned some history. And very funny, the dry, European kind. Highly recommend this book.

  • Melki
    2018-11-13 19:06

    Burdened with student loans and crushing credit card debt, the author decides to run away from responsibility escape with his ladylove to Tarawa, a tiny South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. Troost's visions of a lush tropical paradise are soon swallowed by the harsh reality of beaches studded with feces (human), and a diet consisting of boiled (occasionally toxic) fish. And beer. (Thank God for the beer!)To picture Kiribati, imagine that the continental U.S. were to conveniently disappear leaving only Baltimore and a vast swath of very blue ocean in its place. Now chop up Baltimore into thirty-three pieces, place a neighborhood where Maine used to be, another where California once was, and so on, until you have thirty-three pieces of Baltimore dispersed in such a way as to ensure that 32/33 of Baltimorians will never attend an Orioles game again. Now take away electricity, running water, toilets, television, restaurants, buildings, and airplanes (except for two very old prop planes, tended by people who have no word for "maintenance"). Replace with thatch. Flatten all land into a uniform two feet above sea level. Toy with islands by melting polar ice caps. Add palm trees. Sprinkle with hepatitis A, B, and C. Stir in dengue fever and intestinal parasites. Take away doctors. Isolate and bake at a constant temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The result is the Republic of Kiribati.Funny . . . it doesn't look that bad from the air.So, while his girlfriend went to work everyday managing programs that sought to improve child and maternal health, alleviate vitamin A deficiency, raise environmental awareness, and advance the cause of sanitation. . ., Troost was left on his own. His attempts to write a novel never got off the first page (sentence, really), so he became something of a househusband whose duties included finding fish for dinner that would provide nutrition without actually killing the couple. You may envy or scorn Troost's copious amounts of free time, but you'll have to admit he had a fairly interesting experience. I was waffling between three and four stars as there really isn't much to this book, but the author's method of dealing with Mormons who come a-knocking bumped the star-o-meter up to four.Elder Jeb and Elder Brian were twenty-year-old Mormon missionaries from Utah. They wanted my soul."Come in," I said. "Do you want a cup of tea?""No, thanks.""How about a cigarette?""No, really.""Beer?""No, we can't"When I inquired if they had had any luck finding wives, they decided to move on and try their chances elsewhere.Troost - if you come up with a clever way to get rid of the Jehovah's Witnesses who haunt my doorway, I'll bump your score up to five.

  • Kiribatidaughter
    2018-11-14 16:13

    To Mr.Troost,I learned that you are a liar and a disgraceful man, and my opinion about you lay on the beaches of Tarawa. You wrote about my culture, my people and my island I dearly love so you can be famous and rich!!! The title is a scheme and a trick to get people's attention so they can buy your book. The book was given to me because I refused to buy it. I was on the island in 1997 and I didn't remember the LaMacarena and the beer crisis. You got a sick mind. Temawa (rest her soul)was my best friend and cousin, and Faroug (deported to Africa) at FSP and what you said about them were not true!!!!.You make me sick. I agree that you are not good with names(two years wait before you wrote this book is a long time for your brain) but disagreed that you tried to protect the people's identity. You should be sued. You are cruel and insensitive to get a laugh out of an innocent culture so you can be useful and most of all get rich so you can supplement your pathetic past. I hope that is not the case but Mr. Troost YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. For those who are contributing to troost'S pocket, beware your beloved home land could be next or maybe its too late since he's already written several more books.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2018-12-08 17:57

    I think it is important to separate the subject matter of a book from the book itself. Kiribati? Fascinating. The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific? Not good. The research was interesting. The factoids were interesting. But the author comes across as a complete tool. I would have been far more interested in hearing about his girlfriend's experience in the Republic of Kiribati, since she was actually working with people and doing things, unlike J. Maarten. It isn't a funny book, although I keep seeing reviews that say it is. The situation the author and his girlfriend find themselves in is incredibly uncomfortable and rather unhygienic - they are lucky to have survived it, quite honestly. People shit where they eat, literally, in fact his girlfriend is being sent there in order to do sanitation education. It is a greater sense of isolation than simply being out of their comfort zone. They turn into survivalists just like everyone else living on a tiny island with nothing to make a living off of. Funny? Not really. Definitely not "rip-roaring" as the book jacket claims. The author is a drifter and ultimately doesn't contribute much to the book. (And he wrote it!)Even though I have it on my to-read shelf, I'm not sure I'll be bothering with Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu. Give me another Sara Wheeler any day.

  • David
    2018-11-19 11:56

    False Advertisement. Defined (loosely) as misrepresenting a product in such a fashion as to entice the buyer to make a purchase "sight unseen". Alternatively, this work stands in nicely.J. Marten Troost goes out to the middle of "No Where", and there he finds something so trope that he absolutely must write a novel about it. But first, he'll describe his failings to write a novel. In his novel. A non-fiction account of his inability to write fiction. At least I can hope he lies poorly?There is something pitifully post-modern about his realization. It's almost expected. He finds the simple island life to be compelling, despite its flaws. Human shit floating in the sea is better than its metaphorical partner sitting next to him in the cubical back "home". Capitalism is a wellspring of obesity, not happiness. This is the expected realization, the predicted discovery. In another author, I would hope for the pained self realization that would be the awareness that he was telling me something he knew that I would see coming. Maybe, Troost thinks that even though "Life is better simple, just different" is as obvious as a bullet in my brain, I simply haven't actually been shot yet; I just think I've been.There is no understanding. There is just trope. The trope is, will be, and continues because I'm told there is a sequel.There are few cannibals. There is almost no sex. There is defiantly little about their sex lives. There is one American man's discovery that he likes sandals and real shit.Where is my novel where a Cannibal discovers he likes Gucci and Shiatsu?

  • Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
    2018-12-09 16:09

    2.5 starsMartin Troost’s life wasn’t going much of anywhere, so he lucked out when his girlfriend got a job in the remote Pacific island nation of Kiribati, where he spent his time learning to surf, drinking with other expats, and trying to write a novel. He never succeeded – from the superficial depictions of everyone else in this book, I suspect character development was a problem – but their two-year stint on the island of Tarawa provided fodder for this book, about the difficulties, pitfalls, and occasional rewards of expat life on the island.Troost’s storytelling is competent, and the stories about, for instance, his struggle to buy fresh water when the tank ran dry (the water company offered it for sale... but how to transport water home when the only fire truck is broken?) and a voyage on stormy seas in a plywood boat, are entertaining and sometimes humorous. He also includes a brief history of the country, which is informative. I couldn’t read more than a chapter or two at a time without finding the writing tiring, though. And this is definitely a book for those with strong stomachs: from the descriptions of public defecation, to the critters in the water tank and medical refuse on the reef, to the mother dog biting off a passing puppy’s leg to feed to her own pups, much of the content is fairly repulsive.My biggest issue with the book, though, is its irrelevance. Troost spent two years in Kiribati, but to judge by this book, he never got to know any of the locals, and his observations of the culture are infrequent and superficial. I can’t help comparing it to the three Peace Corps memoirs and one excellent travel narrative I’ve read this year, and the comparison does not serve this book well. Troost lazed away his time on Tarawa, learned little and provides no insight into the place (though his observations about poor foreign aid decisions are biting).Also, there’s no sex and no cannibalism – unless you count the dogs.I hesitate to even count this as my challenge book for Kiribati; the problem is that the island nation has only around 100,000 inhabitants, none of whom have ever produced a novel, memoir, or short story collection. (The blogger I linked to got an I-Kiribati professor to mail her his poetry-cum-essay collection, much of which is not in English, which is further than I'm willing to go for my challenge right now.) Nor, per the Goodreads country page, has any foreigner ever written a novel starring an I-Kiribati character. Which leaves me with travel narratives; I’m keeping my eyes open for a richer one than this.

  • Mike
    2018-11-26 20:17

    Funny, interesting, and relaxing. Edit: forgot to mention, the chapter on the island's dogs is not funny, interesting, or relaxing; if, like me, you hate descriptions of mistreated animals, skip it. Also, the book's goodreads' synopsis is somewhat misleading; the book's author struggles without the niceties of western civilization, but he also comes to appreciate both the culture of the island and the double-edged sword of industrial society. Also, the book loses some of its energy about halfway through; in the beginning, the events are surreal and the tone is almost like that of Ignatius Reilly and I got a kick out of imagining a huge, slightly effeminate fat guy trying to teach the natives about hot dogs, Batman, and Boethius. Eventually, though, the book's style, while still amusing, becomes that of a more traditional travel book.

  • Jeanette
    2018-11-24 17:14

    I get a kick out of this guy. I can't remember which one I liked better, this one or Getting Stoned with Savages. They're not always as funny as I expected, but I learned a lot about Pacific island people and customs. I thought this was particularly interesting: "In the 'bubuti' system, someone can walk up to you and say "I bubuti you for your flipflops,' and without a peep of complaint you are obliged to hand over your flipflops. The following day, you can go up to the guy who is now wearing your flipflops, and say 'I bubuti you for your fishing net,' and suddenly you have a new fishing net. In such a way, Kiribati remains profoundly egalitarian." Hmmm....don't think that system would go over well here in the land of "mine, mine, mine, mine!"

  • Peggy
    2018-11-22 19:14

    I enjoyed reading about the author's 2 years on Tarawa, one of the Kiribati islands. It was a fast and funny read, which mixed the author's experiences with some history about the islands. What I particularly liked was that my feelings about the place changed with those of the author: at first it seemed like a hellish place, but in the end I found I really cared for the island and its people, and would have loved to read some more. I plan to read more travelogues by Maarten J. Troost.

  • K.
    2018-11-24 15:12

    Rounded up 3.5 stars.KIRR-E-BAS, the "ti" sound in I-Kiribati is always an "s" sound. Gonna learn you today.As part of my ongoing read around the world project, this title was not my first choice - a white man gallivanting amongst the natives on remote island nation? Sounds like a problematic disaster waiting to be read. Unfortunately, I can only read English and Kiribati itself hasn't produced much in the way of accessible literature for people as limited as I am. So, with Troost we shall persevere.The book opens with a self-deprecating look into why he moved to Tarawa, Kiribati for two years, comparing himself to unnamed memoirs of go-getters who "feel alive when [they are] nearly dead." Troost had no real answer for his journey across the world; he was a person who had Aged into Adulting without the requisite understanding of What Comes Next. "Like many highly educated people, I didn't have much in the way of actual skills." It is a little more self-aware than I was expecting, given the title. His girlfriend Sylvia was the real impetus - she was offered a position on the atoll; Troost came along as little more than a house-husband with vague ambitions to write a book.He acknowledges that he was entirely unprepared for atoll living; he was imagining a tropical paradise and what he got was more along the lines of a very hot, very humid, very isolated place with very few options in, well, anything. It's obvious that he was often bewildered by the I-Kiribati and their culture, but it was tempered by a fairly heavy dose of respect for the people - if not always their customs. See: shitting in the ocean downstream from where he is swimming.Troost mostly focused on things that affected day-to-day living in the atoll, like dog cannibalism and the bubuti, which was the cultural system of trading favor for favor whenever asked. Never being able to say no to a favor sounds like a goddamn nightmare. Even without my dirty capitalist upbringing, being beholden to anyone is not my cup of tea. Even the I-Kiribati are wary of it, hating being promoted because it means they have more to give. I-Matang (people who are not I-Kiribati) are allowed to refuse bubuti, but they are the only ones:"[Airan, a young Australian-educated employee of the Bank of Kiribati] was, however, miserable. He had just been promoted to assistant manager."This is very bad," he said."Why?" I asked. "That's excellent news.""No. People will come to me with bubuti. They will bubuti me for money. They will bubuti me for jobs. It is very difficult." This system is why many governmental Kiribati positions remain in I-Matang hands. "Sylvia's presence ensured that the organization would not crumble under the demands of bubuti system, which is exactly what occurred when the only other international nongovernmental organization to work in Kiribati decided to localize. Its project funds were soon gobbled up in a flurry of bubutis and the organization dissolved." Troost also commented on a broader political sphere, speaking of the colonialist history of the Pacific and the current issues plaguing the islands due to the Western world's complacency: "There was, it seemed to me, considerable dissonance between the health care concerns of westerners and the realities of the Pacific. Diarrhea and acute respiratory infections, for instance, killed nearly 10 percent of children under the age of five. But glamorous people don't die of diarrhea. Elizabeth Taylor doesn't hold fundraisers for people with the runs."After two years, Troost and his girlfriend left Tarawa and tried to adjust back to the Western world, with its too many options and faster pace. They had a baby, but when the opportunity to go back to the Pacific arose, they jumped on it and brought him along. "A day might be wonderful or terrible, but it was never, ever boring. [...] I am quite likely the world's laziest adrenaline-junkie, and so living in Tarawa worked well for me. I didn't have to do anything. Shit just happened on Tarawa."

  • Jessica
    2018-11-18 18:08

    If I could give this book another half star, I would. It's an entertaining & thoughtful look at the life of an American on the Pacific island of Kiribati.I guess I am at a point in my life where I can say with a certain confidence that I will never visit Kiribati myself. So, in the way that all travel writing tends to allow one to vicariously experience a place, this book satisfies. But there is a cynical, somewhat smug superiority in the way that island living is portrayed. It's honest, and I recognize the impulse toward cynicism as a totally natural (and frankly: hilarious) one. It's a way to deal SOMEHOW with the discomfort and heartache that comes with seeing people you care about suffer through poverty and humiliation. I've been there; someday soon I may be there again. But right now? Tonight? I want something an eensy bit more hopeful.Best quote:"The foreigners one meets tend to live life in a vivid and eccentric sort of way, and when you listen to their tales of high adventure in the South Seas, you find that you are subsequently ruined from a conversational point of view, that you can no longer even pretend to be remotely interested in someone's trip to the mall, or their thoughts about the stock market, or their opinions about the relative merit of a football player, and soon you will be branded as aloof, simply because once, on a faraway island, you heard some pretty good stories."

  • Rebecca
    2018-12-02 12:08

    The author of this book was kind of a douche. So what do I do? Pick up more of his stuff! Looking forward to it (sort of). But I liked the topic a lot. Guy and his gal are recent college grads and guy has no idea what to do, so he follows his gal to the end of the world where she gets a job for a year or two on an atoll in the Pacific. One thing I liked about this book, is the authors total honesty. He has dreams of what it will be like and it so doesn't live up to them. Another thing I liked, is that this book took place in the mid-90's so cell phones and computers aren't everywhere yet, so it seems compared to other books I have read on this topic, while it's a world of difference in the middle of nowhere, it's not as extreme as it probably is today, with technology and all. Sounds like my kind of place! NOT! After this book I never have dreams of going to a deserted island like these. The lack of food and water and just hothothot all day and no electricity, sounds miserable. The best part? Losing tons of weight because there is nothing to eat! Otherwise, forget it. The Guy had nothing to do on the island, he thought he would write his novel. Instead, this book came out of it. So, not half bad. And since he had nothing to do, every chapter was like a little story set around a different aspect of life. I like that format a lot. Which is why I picked up more of his stuff. We'll see how it goes.

  • Brant
    2018-11-18 14:19

    Perhaps I'll rewrite this review, but for now,... this book is an easy read. It's about a couple, independent in their ideals and beliefs, who move to Kiribati in the Pacific for a 2 year stint for international development efforts. The guy (author) goes through wonderful details of the people, the climate, culture, and societal oddities, and oooooooohhhhh so much more. I couldn't put it down. I must say (and I am definitely easily enthusiastic about new places to travel and experience) I never want to go there. His writing is very well done, and the misadventures so vicarious in nature, I feel like I've already been there, done that, and what's better about the whole situation,... I take comfort in the fact that it wasn't me... and that I can laugh at their situations... and laugh... and laugh... and laugh.No masterpiece here, no prestigious awards, no deep hidden metaphors or inner reflection required... just a damn funny book that I couldn't stop reading and one of the MOST enjoyable books I've ever read.Highly recommended. May the drifting tide not bring you poop and may you always find yourself in the company of those who think so highly of you, that you are served canned corned beef. (yes, they are references to this fabulous read...)

  • Bailey Jane
    2018-11-13 16:53

    J. Maarten Troost has already turned into one of my favorite authors although this is the first I've read of his work. His writing is intelligently witty, dry, and sarcastic. Some chapters of this book are slower than others, but are necessary for the reader to fully understand why the I-Kiribati people behave in the ways they do or maintain their ways of life. I began reading this book around the same time I moved to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, and the hilarious pickles in which the author manages to tangle himself made my transition to island life seem like a breeze. I believe this book would be a perfect summer read, but only for those who enjoy a little more substance than really light summer reads about fashion or romance. I cannot wait to see how this novel ends or to read other books by this author.I just finished this today (Nov. 28, 2008) and I totally recommend this to anyone, especially those who love to travel or have ever relocated to an island. It made my transition to the Virgin Islands seem far less problematic after reading his adventures in Kiribati. I hope everyone can get a chance to read this one. You won't be let down by his easy writing style, and intelligent and sometimes hilarious writing.

  • Tasha
    2018-11-14 17:13

    This is a hard book to rate. There were many times while reading this book that I laughed out loud and thought the author a very funny guy with a very funny sense of humor. There were other times that I felt uncomfortable reading his descriptions of the islands and their people. It felt disparaging at times, culturally insensitive. In the end though, before leaving the island, I feel Iike he gained a respect and love for the island and the people. Ok, maybe not love, but a kinder feeling and respect towards them. I feel better about that. From his description, the islands (atolls, really) seem like a hard place to live, particularly if you come from the 'outside world', and he used humor to make the best of it. I feel like I learned about these islands/atolls and I now have a curiosity about them, which is always a great ending from a book. I enjoyed the headers on each chapter, they were very funny. I do recommend this book though if you are looking for some laughs. Although if you happen to be a Pacific Islander, I'm not sure you'll find it as funny...see, that's what I mean...

  • Books Ring Mah Bell
    2018-12-09 14:51

    A fantastic and fun read, one that cured me of ever wanting to live on a remote island in the tropics. Here's how Troost saved me:1. reiterates throughout the book that it is very hot. VERY VERY hot. While he does this in an entertaining way, one can almost feel (and smell) the humid discomfort.2. He describes the lack of variety of food. Seafood up the wazoo, and it's not exactly quality stuff. However, dog, if prepared properly is "kang kang". (tasty!!!!!!!!)3. He tells me of the lack of all the creature comforts I take for granted. Access to clean water, electricity, plumbing... I guess I'm spoiled.4. He speaks of the horrors of lack of fresh reading material. Forget that question, "If you went to a deserted island, what book would you take?" You'd want a whole lot more than just one!I would most certainly pack other books by Troost, easy and entertaining. They might even bring a smile to my face while the mosquitoes eat me alive.

  • Meaghan
    2018-11-25 16:04

    A very amusing literary journey to the island nation of Kiribati (pronounced "Kee-i-bash"), which most people have never heard of, which isn't even a member of the UN. I read Troost's book about Fiji and Vanuatu first and I'm pleased to say I liked this book almost as much. I wish he had written more about his girlfriend Sylvia's job promoting nutrition and sustainable living, though. Troost himself wasn't working, just trying to write a novel and generally idling. He only wrote a few details about Sylvia's work but it sounded really interesting and I wish I knew more.I look forward to reading his book about China. And now I know I will never go to Kiribati. I'm sure I would be driven insane in a week.

  • Cyndi
    2018-11-19 13:54

    I'm not sure whether he was trying to be sarcastic or ironic or both, but a great bit of this book stopped short of either and just came across as bitchy. (Long enough sentence?) Anyway, the ending was nice but he bitched about the island so much that I'm not sure I even want to visit Hawaii. Wait, that's nuts, Hawaii is better than Tarawa. Right? Guess I'll have to grab my swimsuit and find out. Oh, the sacrifices I make. *sigh*

  • Anna
    2018-11-21 12:02

    "Get your head out of your ass!" were the words I wanted to yell at J. Maarten Troost after less than 15 minutes. And pretty much until the very last page. Because "The Sex Lives of Cannibals" isn't really a book about Kiribati - it's about J. Maarten Troost's life in Kiribati. No, wait, scratch that. It's about J. Maarten Troost. Period. On less than 300 pages he tells us all about himself and how he is such a special snowflake. Of course, I have no idea whether it's simply what he's like or if it's some made up persona he invented to make the book "funnier" and I honestly don't care because he makes an insufferable asshole out of himself and his narration is impossible to get through without cringing and jaw-clenching. Sure, he does provide information about Tarawa - history, culture, religion, daily lives of the locals. He also touches a lot of important and difficult subjects. But J. Maarten Troost mostly just talks about J. Maarten Troost. And even when he's mocking himself, he still makes sure to remind the readers that he's so much better than everyone else. There were a few chapters I found amusing and even absorbing but they weren't - and frankly speaking nothing would be - enough to make me forget about everything else that was boring, annoying and often offensive towards the people of Kiribati (well, I can't speak for them but if someone talked like that about my country? UGH).

  • Lisa
    2018-11-14 12:00

    Travelling is something that always brings out the very worst in me. Simply getting a bus to somewhere unfamiliar in my hometown can set off a frenzy of anxiety that can ruin not only my day but those of everyone I come into contact with, so you can probably imagine the nightmare I can make of travelling to a different country. Add in that I’m also someone who needs frequent medical interventions and it becomes blindingly obvious that the fantasy of living on a desert island will always remain just that to me - a fantasy. So it’s a good thing that people like J. Maarten Troost exist to do the travelling and write about it for me.Having already lived something of a nomadic and adventurous life, taking in war zones and disasters amongst other not so lovely things, when Troost’s girlfriend is offered a job helping to develop and educate the citizens of Tarawa, a remote island in the South Pacific, he jumps at the chance to move with her and start the idyllic life of his desert island fantasies. On arrival, it’s soon obvious that island life is actually anything but idyllic, filled as it is with packs of feral dogs, poverty stricken people who believe that shitting anywhere is OK, corrupt government departments and a depressingly narrow diet built entirely around the few things that can be grown on the unfarmable land. It’s no wonder that its inhabitants get shitfaced as often as they possibly can.When I first started The Sex Lives of Cannibals, I thought that Troost’s voice might irritate me too much to enjoy it, but before long I was sniggering along as he described the latest jaw dropping adventure with the island fishermen who took their lives into their hands every time they ventured on to the water, the dancing frenzies that were the highlight of the island year, and the terrible lack of reading material that had him impatient for every infrequent visit by ships bringing new supplies.A light-hearted book which made me more grateful than ever that I live in a house with heating, clean water, and regular deliveries from supermarkets, The Sex Lives of Cannibal provided some entertaining insights into a world very different from my own, as well as making me more OK than ever about the fact that I will be only be leaving England for short spells.**Also posted at Cannonball Read 9**

  • T.H. Waters
    2018-11-26 16:53

    Dang. This book really bummed me out. It's one of the few that have come my way which I wish I wouldn't have read. It's billed as a humorous book about a dude who lived on a tiny island near the equator for a few years. Sure, it starts out funny enough. I did laugh during the descriptions about the author's mishap when a turd was relentlessly tracking him in the water during an afternoon ocean dip and again at his inescapable battle with the ubiquitous La Macarena song that incessantly blared from every house and shop on the island. But after awhile, J. Maarten's cavalier observations merely left a bad taste in my mouth rather than urging me to gleefully turn the pages. Observations like: considering eating one of his dogs (Brown Dog) for dinner after an islander suggested Brown Dog would be very tasty or finding a stray pup and trying to muster the courage to snap its neck then toss it in the ocean or this line about Princess Diana - "The government of Kiribati was well informed about all things Diana. I no longer cared about Princess Diana. She's dead. Let it go." I'm certainly no royal watcher, but come on. Taking jabs at Diana? Really? And I really love dogs, so I was mortified by his contemptuous attitude towards them. J. Maarten's view of the islanders themselves was just as nauseating. The only impression of them I now hold is that they are lazy slobs who don't give a damn about their jobs or their island and think nothing about living in absolute squalor. Oh, but they can sing well and dance, too. Um... what? Don't get me wrong. I love to laugh and have fun as much as anybody, but shock jock humor just isn't for me. My brand of humor is much more aligned with such fantastically written books as Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian." I had the same experience with J. Maarten Troost as I often do at a cocktail party when I'm stuck next to "that guy" who exudes self-importance and entitlement from every single one of his pores and loves to hear himself chatter so much that he doesn't even notice how bored I am - I figure out the most ingenious way to get the hell away from him.

  • Adam
    2018-11-27 12:00

    Not about cannibals at all, and featuring very little about anyone's sex life, The Sex Lives of Cannibals is not a book to judge by its cover. But I guess nobody would buy a book called Living on Kiribati or something. Except me. Because that's how I ended up reading this. An evening that somehow developed into reading endless wiki articles about random Pacific islands nobody's heard of led me to discover the nation of Kiribati, which I had genuinely no idea existed at all. And learning about this book. Anyway, the dude writes something like a younger Bill Bryson who's been reading David Foster Wallace and who is stuck on an overpopulated sinking atoll a billion miles from anywhere.Kiribati is a strange and fascinating place. Despite the title, despite the description, etc. Troost is actually really empathetic and respectful to the I-Kiribati, and seems to have ended up truly appreciating his chance to live on this absurdly hot, doomed land with zero natural resources, zero arable land, shit, pigs, and dogs everywhere, and a government that is both sad and amusing. So I learned a little about Kiribati. And about the failure of the World Bank and the UN and so on. The thing with this sorta non-fiction stuff is it's partly about the writing and partly about the subject matter. Troost is a pretty good writer, just not as funny as he thinks he is sometimes. The subject matter is pretty incredible. Hard to find anything like it. So definitely worth reading.

  • A
    2018-11-24 18:50

    I must start by saying that this was a thoroughly enjoying read. I must also admit that I was too shalllow to comprehend the deeper meanings in this travel book until I read the reviews here on Goodreads after finishing the book.Having said that this book does a great job of relating what life on a tiny atoll in the Pacific would be like for all of those from Western cultures who will never live there. Yes Troost is a bit jaded in some of his stories and does tend to make himself out to be a bit too "something" to toil at a typical job like the rest of us. But, he is the one who ended up living on a tiny atoll in the Pacific. I have traveled to some rather remote places on the globe, but can't imagine the isolation of Kirabiti. I think that the experience gives Troost license to tell some of his stories in his way. I could do without the last couple of chapters when he basically told us that he could be a big wig in the normal world if he wanted, but otherwise enjoyed the read.I would summarize the book like this. The guy from college who KNEW he was cool, and really was quite a bit of fun took off for this foreign location and shared his stories with us when he got back. So he thinks the trip was cool. Well it really was pretty cool.Cheers, Maarten.

  • Jessica
    2018-11-18 12:13

    I read this because my friends back in PA decided they wanted to give a book club a shot and I knew I'd be visiting the weekend that they wanted to hold their discussion. So here you have it: the first installment in the (Un)Official Chestnut Hill Gang Book Club. Maarten Troost and his girlfriend (wife-to-be, really) graduate with advanced degrees in international studies, focusing on foreign aid to developing nations. The job hunt lands Sylvia an offer to work on the tiny Pacific island nation of Kiribati, and off the pair goes, completely unprepared for the poverty, heat, and isolation of life on the Equator. It's an interesting book and I learned quite a bit about the I-Kiribati people. The author can be a bit of a tool -- he seems to just stumble along in life letting this happen as they may, and is shockingly blase when he returns home from Kiribati to face three years of unpaid credit card debt. Still, his tongue-in-cheek approach to his memoir made for a rather quick, pleasant read.

  • Parker
    2018-11-14 14:13

    A pretty leisurely commentary on capitalism, consumerism, and romance. Maybe i read a little too much into it. Overall pretty entertaining, but definitely not life altering. The author did a great job making his points subtly, and i know that is his style of writing, but since he created such a great picture of the disconnect between the haves and the have nots and the dysfunctionality of governments both large and small as well as the importance(or perhaps unimportance and ridiculosity[made that one up on the fly])of cultural traditions, that i really expected him to hit the reader over the head with a profound solution, or even an informed observation about the culmination of civilization. Instead, he gingerly walked around a sleeping giant scattering jokes like flower petals and farts on a windy day. Don't blink or you'll miss them. For all the idealism and profundity the author conveys he extracted from his 'trip', he has exhibited no lasting effects, and i mean that in the worst way possible.

  • Mag
    2018-11-22 13:17

    This is Maarten Toost’s first book, and the third one for me. It is about two years Troost spent with his wife on a really remote island in the Pacific- Kiribas. It’s a tiny island, a part of an independent country with the population of less than 10,000 belonging to the British Commonwealth, which faces numerous environmental and economic challenges. Written with humour and enough of social and political bite and critique, it’s a great read- honest and compassionate. You definitely become an instant advocate for meaningful aid and the idea of Pacific cleanup after reading it.With Makarena and death of Princess Diana being the most popular events on Kiribas, I can’t help but think that everybody was watching the Royal Wedding there, even though electricity and TV’s are quite hard to come by.