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The (Future) Vista Cañas Library

The Sex Lives of Cannibals

(1 customer review)

Author: J. Maarten Troost

Length: 288 pages
Type: Fiction, Physical Book
Genre: Humor, Travel

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Description

Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific

“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).”

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1 review for The Sex Lives of Cannibals

  1. Janet Dore

    No, it’s not porn – of either the soft or hard variety. It is the funniest book I have read in the 43 years I have been devouring them. Wickedly funny. And, it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. For weeks I had been plodding through the 10,000+ page classic Middlemarch with brutal (and quite admirable) determination. I always rise to a daunting intellectual challenge…but, not in Kauai. There is an unwritten law (somewhere) that while in Paradise one is only allowed to read books that make you laugh, soar, or are of the soft or hard core variety . So, Middlemarch remains on my nightstand waiting patiently for my return to reality. I couldn’t have picked a better book…

    I must warn you that this is not the best book to read in public. First, there is the title. You’ll notice occasional furtive glances, sly grins or raised eyebrows. The rebel in me calls forth a seductive smile at just the right moment. Then, there are the uncontrollable outbursts of laughter. I wonder if my fellow airline passengers went so far as to make a plan in the event that I totally lost it…

    What could possibly be so hysterical? The 272 pages of observations and experiences of a funny, funny guy while living at the “edge of the world” for two years…on an atoll (it’s not even big enough to be categorized as an island) known as Tarawa in the unheard of Republic of Kiribati (pronounced “Kir-ee-bas…on account of the missionaries being stingy with the letters they used to transcribe the local language”) in the middle of the South Pacific. He and his girlfriend move to “possibly the Worst Place on Earth” in search of an exotic life experience…and, they got it. Far more than they bargained for…the list is endless: “…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.”

    Try not to laugh while reading this excerpt about the atoll’s mythological beginning…

    “A long time ago, Tarawa was brought forth by Nareau the Creator. Nareau the Creator was a spider and he looked upon his work and saw that it was good. Perhaps because he was a spider. Nareau the Creator then flung grains of Tarawa to the wind and from these grains other islands were born and together these islands were called Tungaru. He created demigods and people and they procreated but the demigod gene seems to have died out, and so very soon there were just people. He created distant lands and sent Nareau the Wise to tend to the land of white-skinned spirits, the I-Matang world, and Nareau the Cunning to oversee the land of black-skinned spirits. Their intermingling was not advised.

    I sometimes wish that Nareau had been a little more expansive in his ambitions. As the primordial source of life Tarawa is a bit modest. Which grain was it that led to the Euroasian landmass? Why couldn’t we have kept that one, I wondered. How about the Bora Bora grain? Couldn’t Nareau at least have left a grain or two that could have morphed into hills, mountains even, something to break the monotony of a low island? As I cycled up and down the atoll on a thirdhand mountain bike that would never see a mountain, or a hill, or even a rise requiring a gear change, I realized that Nareau, unlike the great majority of deities, was a humble god, prone to thrift and frugality, and while I believe this should be encouraged among deities everywhere, I did periodically yearn for a god who kept a grander residence. Not that Tarawa is without its moments of grandeur – it is, after all, a tropical island – it’s just that it’s very, very small.” [Chapter 5, pages 46-47:]

    I wholeheartedly agree with Troost’s own description of this book as “not too serious, not too stupid.” Part travelogue, part human interest, part political education, all wickedly funny…I learned a lot and had a blast while increasing the size of my brain.

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