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Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu Paperback – June 13, 2006

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Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu + The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific + Headhunters on My Doorstep: A True Treasure Island Ghost Story
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Using a format similar to that of his previous work, The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Troost creates another comical and touching travel memoir. Troost and his wife, Sylvia, move from busy Washington, D.C., to Vanuatu, a nation made up of 83 islands in the South Pacific. As Sylvia works for a regional nonprofit, Troost immerses himself in the islands' culture, an odd mix of the islanders' thousand-year-old "kastoms" along with imperialist British and French influences. This really means that Troost gets to live in a nice house while he gets drunk on kava; dodges "a long inferno of magma and a cascade of lava bombs" at the "world's most accessible volcano"; and checks out the "calcified" leftovers from one of Vanuatu's not-so-ancient traditions, cannibalism. At the end of the book, the couple move to Fiji so that Sylvia will have state-of-the-art medical care when she gives birth to their first baby. While modern-day Fiji provides little fodder for Troost's comic sensibilities, the birth of his son enables him to share some deeper thoughts and decide it is "time to stop looking for paradise." A funny travelogue with a sentimental heart, Troost's latest work genuinely captures the search for paradise as well as the need for home. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Praise for The Sex Lives of Cannibals:

“A comic masterwork of travel writing.” —Publishers Weekly

“Troost has a command of place and narrative that puts his debut in the company of some of today’s best travel writers.” —Elle

“A delightful, self-deprecating, extremely sly account of life in a place so wretched it gives new, terrible meaning to getting away from it all.” —National Geographic Adventure

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 239 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (June 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767921992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767921992
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J. MAARTEN TROOST is an international traveler whose essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, and The Prague Post. He spent two years in Kiribati in the Equatorial Pacific and upon his return was hired as a consultant by the World Bank. After several years in Fiji and Vanuatu, he recently relocated to the U.S. and now lives with his wife and son in California.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Zendicant Pangolin on July 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
I stumbled upon Troost's first book in Powell's due to a 'Staff Recommendation' and devoured it within a day: A truly funny and engaging read. The following day I ran out and purchased this expecting more of the same but it ain't. Well, not exactly anyway. Whereas I read his first book in a day, it has taken me over a week to get through this and I doubt I'll finish it actually. What's the difference? Well, to start with the premise is that Troost will write a 'Travel Book' in the vein of Evelyn Waugh, and Paul Theroux around A year that spent living in Fiji and Vanuatu. His previous book revolved around the two years he spent in Kiribati. This latter book was a masterpiece of humor, anecdote, gentle self-deprecation and just pure good will. It was fresh and engaging and a real pleasure to read because of the author's uncanny ability to turn small events into good story fodder and for his willigness and ability to mock himself within the adventures told of. The present book suffers by contrast because I believe the author has slipped from glib and insouciant bonhommie to rather smug and smarmy world weariness as he grinds out his tale of two situses. Whereas in the former book the author took delight in the tiny details which he really used well to make his point, we find in this book these exquisite little details have been replaced by A sort of slapdash broadbrush treatment of large themes such as 'trip to an island dance' or 'month in the city.Read more ›
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Lux on September 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
J. Maarten Troost's sophomore effort is another travel memoir about a suburbanite displaced to a remote, third-world culture. This time around, he's not merely following his wife's career in assisting impoverished countries. He's not moving around the world for lack of anything better to do; he's moving of his own free will and desire. Maarten and Sylvia, after returning temporarily to the hectic pace of Washington, D.C., make a conscious decision to return to the South Pacific and start a family. They research locations, look for employment, and consider the political unrest in various locales before deciding on their new homeland.

In his first memoir, Troost's reluctant adoption of his new culture is the core of the story. Heck, he wasn't even sure why he agreed to go there! His writing drew the reader into a foreign culture, bringing a higher level of appreciation for a dirty, poor, unconventional village that the average American wouldn't survive a day in. This time around, Troost has a goal of actively exploring his settings and writing a second book. The premise doesn't succeed quite as well as his fish-out-of-water basis for the first memoir.

Troost spends days bonding with natives over the psychedlic high providing by kava, but in the end, he appears to be just another man trying to escape with alcohol or drugs, only now it is conveniently packaged as a cultural experience. He is on a quest for a message and a purpose for his book, running around trying to find cannibals and other interesting characters to interview. The action seems forced. He's lost the innocence and reluctance that made the first memoir so wonderful. Is this still a great travel book? Absolutely! It is leagues above most anything else on the market.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By David W. Straight on June 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
Back to the South Pacific, but this time to Vanuatu and Fiji.

Curiously, cannibalism is much more relevant in this book than

in Sex Lives of Cannibals--maybe he should have saved the word

for here! Once again we escape from the structured life of

suits-and-ties and commuting to visit exotic places. You'll

read about visiting active volcanoes where tourists had been

killed a few weeks before, foot-long poisonous centipedes, the

joys of drinking kava, which is best if you don't think about

how it's made, and cannibalism, which last occurred in Vanuatu

within the author's lifetime.

Troost is a very engaging and humorous writer, frequently poking

fun at himself. And yet....and yet..there seemed to be

a difference between this book and Sex Lives--something that

gave his first book a full 5 stars, something that maybe wasn't

exactly missing here, but something that didn't quite captivate

you as his first book had done. It's been a year since I read

Sex Lives, and there are scenes that stand out in my mind from

that book--the lagoon where you would like to swim filled with

used disposable diapers, for example. Having thought things

over, I think that the problem is that in Sex Lives, there was

so much that seemed totally alien to most of our lives--such

as the lagoon with diapers. In Getting Stoned with Savages, a

lot of what we see is not as alien--you can get hurricanes and

transvestites in New Orleans or Florida, volcanoes in the

Caribbean and Central America, corrupt politicians everywhere.

The difference bewteen the idyllic view of the South Pacific

and reality in Kiribati is great, the difference in Vanuatu and

Fiji is substantial, but not as great. Still--a fine read!
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