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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars marvelous book-maven
Although this book certainly is rip-roaringly funny, Buslik does himself a disservice by considering himself first and foremost a comic writer. There is a misleading modesty here, because Buslik is a highly skilled prose stylist: a master of controlled language, tone, and the ability to invoke deep emotions, felt and remembered long after the last page. The essays in...
Published on May 19, 2008 by marvelous book-maven

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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Rotten Person Reads About the Caribbean
The back cover of a Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean says, "...screamingly funny. Gary Buslik plies the Caribbean with shark eye and barracuda wit." I'm not sure what that means but I can try to cite a few examples, using the author's words. After dazzling fellow tourists with his superior knowledge of the rum-making process, with ulterior hopes of `impressing' the...
Published on July 22, 2008 by Gerald J. Ross


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars marvelous book-maven, May 19, 2008
This review is from: A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it's Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen (Travelers' Tales) (Paperback)
Although this book certainly is rip-roaringly funny, Buslik does himself a disservice by considering himself first and foremost a comic writer. There is a misleading modesty here, because Buslik is a highly skilled prose stylist: a master of controlled language, tone, and the ability to invoke deep emotions, felt and remembered long after the last page. The essays in this collections are occasionally played just for laughs but more often set readers up with humor and endlessly silly digressions, only, at the finish, to spring powerful emotional traps. The final piece, "Where Satan Works," is nonstop hilarity for eleven pages, only to end with the saddest and most spot-on observations about 9/11 I have ever read. This may be the best writing ever about that horrible day. His poignant "Flow," "Nasdaq 5000," "Weed Killer," and "Sometimes It's the Other Way Around" are literary feasts. Don't kid yourself: this author is not only a keen observer of human behavior but of human nature. The publisher might be selling this book mainly to tourists now, but my guess is that in a few years they'll be selling it to University English departments.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beer spewing out of your nose funny, May 31, 2008
This review is from: A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it's Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen (Travelers' Tales) (Paperback)
Writing funny stories is hard work. I know as I attempt it in my writing. My idols are Dave Barry, PJ O'Rourke and Carl Hiassen and now you can add Gary Buslik to that list. It is easy to sit in a bar and tell a story, everybody laughs and slaps you on the back. Bars have an endless supply of semi inebriated less than scholarly types, who will laugh at almost anything. Try writing the story down and you are faced with a cast of intellectuals who keep track of things like quotation marks and indents (whatever that is), they talk in terms of "first person" and "present tense" words that have never been uttered in bars. The point is humor is hard to write and seldom turns out funny. Every story in this book is, "beer spewing out of your nose" funny. You will find yourself laughing so hard; people will come up to you to find out what in the hell is so funny.

Some will take offense to the depiction of certain nationalities and religious groups. Get over it, it's humor, the over the top depiction of Europeans and local Islanders is intentional and adds to the humor. I don't think any intelligent reader finds the exaggeration of stereotypes anything more than amusing. I share Gary's love of the town of Plymouth on Montserrat and found the reference in the book to be quite touching. The story Papa's Ghost adds a great touch to the Hemingway legend. Pick up this book a bottle of rum and enjoy the trip, beats the hell out of the hockey playoffs.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughed my bikini top off., May 16, 2008
By 
Book Lover Lucy (Milwaukee, WI USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it's Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen (Travelers' Tales) (Paperback)
I bought this book at the airport, on our way to Jamaica, thinking I'd read it poolside once we got there. I made the mistake of glancing at the first page on the plane, so it never made it to the pool. I couldn't put it down either on our flight or in bed that night. My husband wanted to know why I kept laughing out loud and, for that matter, why I was more interested in this book than in him. I told him he'd find out. This book is not only hilarious, it totally nails the dynamics of a couple on vacation. It sets just the right tone for a good time with the one you love. I not only would recommend this book to anyone, I did. On our flight home, half our group had their own copies, and flight attendants wanted to know why everyone was in stitches.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strange mix of fact and fantasy, with a lot of humor added in..., August 24, 2008
This review is from: A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it's Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen (Travelers' Tales) (Paperback)
When I recently requested the book Cruise Confidential for reviewing, I also ended up with a second book in the package. The title was enough to suck me in right away... A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it's Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen by Gary Buslik. Ideally I would have waited to read this until our next cruise to the Southern Caribbean in March. But I couldn't wait that long. Rotten is a strange mix of travel stories leaving you with a question... what really happened, what's true, what's fantasy, and how do I sign up for a job like this? If you can imagine Carl Hiaasen or Dave Barry as a comedy travel writer, you start to come close to Buslik's style. But any way you look at it, it was a pretty funny read with some poignant moments mixed in.

Contents:
The Time I Accidentally Urinated on Idi Amin; My Military-Industrial Complex; NASDAQ 5000; El Max; The Power of MasterCard; The Night Ramon Popular Stopped Being a Commie; Papa's Ghost; A Bug in My Eye; Weed Killer; My Secret Cigars; My Date with Princess Di; Flow; The Art of Indifference in an Uncivil Age; Why Chicken Rectums Are More Relevant than You Think; Black Power; Sometimes It's the Other Way Around; Where Satan Works; Acknowledgments

Buslik is a travel writer who spends a lot of time in the Caribbean for his stories. He also sees himself as a comedy writer, and the two talents combine for some crazy adventures that are stretched to the edge of credibility. For instance, the Amin story takes place at a restaurant where he and his wife have gone to try and enjoy a night out. He steps out to smoke a cigar, and comes back in to a somewhat different mood pervading the entire place. Everyone seems rather frightened and subdued, although the music is still cranking away. He decides to go to the bathroom to get a little relief, only to find that he's standing side by side with the former dictator of Uganda. His second and third take cause him to turn slightly and, you guessed it, dribble a bit on Idi. Not a move to guarantee a long and peaceful life. From there, the story gets REALLY bizarre, with Idi coming out and asking his wife to dance. This is followed up by Amin finding them at their hotel, and pretty much becoming a stalker. Somewhere in there I think reality crosses over to fantasy, but it still makes for a funny read.

But not all the pieces are along that vein. One of his trips to Cuba has him searching for the ghost of Hemingway. He's not successful in finding anything that appears to be the spirit of Papa, but he does meet the old man who was his best friend down there. Now old and confined to a wheelchair, the guy has almost no life except to be rolled out for occasional pictures with tourists. Buslik meets him and wonders why the old man continues to hang on tight to life, when so little of it appears to be worth anything. But in a brief moment of clarity, the old man looks at Buslik, mistakenly thinks he's "Ernesto" come back like he said he would, and is rolled off with a smile on his face, something that rarely happens. The old man dies within the next couple of days, and Buslik contemplates what that case of mistaken identity might have meant to a man who had nothing left in his life. Very touching...

If you have followed Buslik's work, you may have seen a few of these stories as articles in various travel magazines over the last 10 years. The anthology nature of this book explains why many of the stories seem to have little to no bearing on each other. But if you're in the mood for an offbeat look at the islands, this is a nice way to go. Grab an umbrella drink, relax, and enjoy.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Rotten Person Reads About the Caribbean, July 22, 2008
By 
Gerald J. Ross "jerberoni" (Monroeville, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it's Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen (Travelers' Tales) (Paperback)
The back cover of a Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean says, "...screamingly funny. Gary Buslik plies the Caribbean with shark eye and barracuda wit." I'm not sure what that means but I can try to cite a few examples, using the author's words. After dazzling fellow tourists with his superior knowledge of the rum-making process, with ulterior hopes of `impressing' the tour guide, our `screamingly funny' author "... vomited all over her." That's sure to get a guffaw out of someone! (He pees too with requisite assurance he would never want to `cop a look' toward the next urinal!) Buslik's shark eye pierces people who are clearly above the rabble. Niquette is an example. "Niquette, who knew as much about the West Indies as Madam Curie knew about glowing in the dark..."
This style just isn't for me. I find such phrases forced and there are many throughout this book. I just don't like self-indulgence passing as humor! Then there is the hundred-page obsession with The Exorcist! I started to cringe turning pages in fear that another reference to the 35 year-old movie would turn up. I did enjoy the cock-fighting story. It seemed gritty and real, which was what I wanted but the other tales left me feeling like a sucker for having shelled out money for this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fun and fearless, October 2, 2009
This review is from: A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it's Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen (Travelers' Tales) (Paperback)
This book took me by surprise, and I love surprises. At first I wasn't sure how to feel about it--was it fiction, travel memoir, or parody? It turns out Buslik's collection of essays about the Caribbean is a delicious mixture of the three. What I love most about his writing is its fearlessness. The essays are fun, hilarious, risque, edifying. And at the end, also quite sweet, in the way that all great travel yarns and love stories ought to be. Buslik expertly weaves tales that make you laugh, cringe, shudder, shake your head, fear for his life, and then actually--unexpectedly--feel relieved when he somehow emerges unscathed. Each story offers a dose of redemption alongside its trademark snark, making for a brilliant read. This is definitely one of those books that leaves you feeling time-torn: on one hand, you don't want to put it down because it's such a delightful romp. On the other, it's best read slowly, savored over time.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Funny Exaggerated Semi Non-fiction, March 7, 2010
By 
Clifford Garstang (Staunton, Virginia USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it's Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen (Travelers' Tales) (Paperback)
With the arrogance of Paul Theroux and the comic abrasiveness of David Sedaris, this collection of "travelers' tales" is both crude and offensive. On the other hand, except where there are dips into near-racism, these are mostly very funny extended jokes (sometimes at the expense of the author's wife, but more often the locals) about an American's adventures in the Caribbean.

Travel writing, I've always felt, is enjoyable because it informs. It may also transport the reader to distant places, familiar or unfamiliar. I'm not sure I want to visit Gary Buslik's Caribbean, though, and I can't say that anything I learned in the book equips me to do so. But then this isn't your ordinary travel writing. This is just for yucks. Lots and lots of yucks.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not just funny, July 23, 2008
This review is from: A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it's Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen (Travelers' Tales) (Paperback)
Although these are billed as "true tales," the essays in this book have a fictional tension that keep you turning the pages. We care about the narrator and his wife, despite their mutual spite, with each essay-chapter pitting them against one antagonist or another--often themselves. What's more, the entire book has a novel-like structure, insofar as the narrator changes--for the better--from the beginning to the end. In the first stories he seems no more than the stereotypical "ugly American," mocking his wife and island locals, always managing to get the last laugh. The stakes are low at first--in the first piece he just wants a night of lovemaking, and in the second he wants nothing more than to get on a plane and come home. But as the book progresses, his stakes get progressively higher and less superficial, so that by midpoint he finds himself in the midst of real life-and-death geopolitical and even geological crises. More humbly now, he begins to express a greater and more sincere appreciation of his wife and local characters, islands, and customs. One middle piece, "Weed Killer," is a tragedy of Shakespearean dimension, and "Flow" is a monumentally moving tribute to the old-time West Indies. "Papa's Ghost" is a bittersweet portrayal of Hemingway's life in Cuba. At the very end of the collection, the narrator has come to a profound understanding of, and gratitude for, not only the differences between people and cultures but their--our--oneness. The collection ends with the narrator in a completely different mindset than at the beginning, with the author having brought him--and us--to that final epiphany slowly, seamlessly, and with great skill.

Some readers will enjoy this book only for its humor--which is a treat--but more literary-inclined readers will recognize the metaphoric tale of personal growth and how that becomes a call for tolerance in, to borrow from one of Buslik's own essay titles, "an uncivil age."
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Thumbs Up. This is one Funny book, June 2, 2008
This review is from: A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it's Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen (Travelers' Tales) (Paperback)
There wasn't enough room for me to thrash about the breakfast table as I read this book. Truly one of the funniest books I have ever read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll enjoy this loopy travel journey!, December 28, 2009
This review is from: A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it's Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen (Travelers' Tales) (Paperback)
"A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean" is an upside down, inside out, stream of conscious style, loopy travel journey that starts with a chapter titled "The Time I Accidentally Urinated on Idi Amin." Here's a glimpse of how Gary Buslik sees the world in a later chapter, titled "My Date with Princess Di": "These are hard to get to, these tiny, charming places: up coiling, washed out tracks, through listing villages, past straggling goats and clapboard rum shops clinging to hillocks, around herds of wild donkeys, over bone-jarring ghauts--those perilous open gutters washing mountain water to sea. But it is the price to touch a cloud." The world through Buslik's eyes is at turns wildly irreverent and breathtakingly beautiful. Enjoy the journey!
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