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Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations Paperback – June 24, 2014
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"In the guise of this strange and funny chronicle of a lifetime of adventure travel, Nevin Martell has slyly traced his evolution from boy to man and delivered a sharp-edged portrait of one modern American family, warts and ... well, more warts. Part P.J. O'Rourke, part David Sedaris, it is both a rollicking fun trip and a surprisingly tender exploration of the ties that bind." - Todd Kliman, author of The Wild Vine
"Freak Show Without a Tent is the family vacation you never went on (but kinda wish you had). Traveling the globe is all fun and games until the kids discover they're the grown-ups in the equation. Fondly remembered and colorfully-narrated, this book is one-part warmth and two-parts crazy - Martell's genius lies in finding beauty in life's awkwardest moments." - Andrew Evans, National Geographic Traveler
"A funny and poignant account of growing up in unlikely places. Part travel memoir, part The Mosquito Coast, Freak Show Without a Tent is a delight to read." - J. Maarten Troost, author of Headhunters on My Doorstep and Getting Stoned with Savages
"[I]t's easy to imagine that a sitcom pitch based on this book is floating around somewhere." -Washington City Paper
"...Martell chronicles his childhood adventures to far-flung locales in this quirky and humorous travel memoir. These aren't your ordinary Disney trips -- did your family vacations ever include owl hunting in the Azores or fishing for piranhas in the Amazon? Martells' did." - The Travel Channel, Summer Reading List
From the Back Cover
Fishing for piranhas in the Amazon, getting stoned at Fijian kava ceremonies, and witnessing the ancient ritual of land diving on Pentecost Island is the stuff of National Geographic cover stories - and Nevin Martell's childhood vacations. His family's globetrotting took them from the South Pacific to South America and many points nowhere in-between.
Though their lifestyle choices were eccentric, the locations they visited exotic, and the people they met extraordinary, these escapades are firmly grounded in the trials, tribulations, and tribal rivalries that plague all families. Freak Show Without a Tent is a grandly hilarious memoir-misadventure that is equal parts National Lampoon's Vacation, Romancing the Stone and Crocodile Dundee.
Woven seamlessly into the stories of exploring the far side of the far side, near death experiences and gastronomical catastrophes is the story of a young boy coming of age, the evolving relationship between a father and son, and a family discovering its own boundaries. With the honesty and innocence that can only come through the eyes of youth, Martell reveals the symbiosis of interdependence and independence that exist deep within both rainforests and families.
To paraphrase a family motto: buy the ticket, take the ride, and hope you survive, so that you can tell your therapist all about it.
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Top customer reviews
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Through Nevin's detailed and flowing writing you gain an insight into how one family changes as their children pass through adolescence. As you share some of the highlights of those tumultuous years the reader inevitably reflects on his/her own family and how each member of that family has to sacrifice a little to make the whole thing work.
That self sacrifice is not easy, and it's not always pretty. Nevin doesn't shy away from how hard it is to make a family work in modern America, even when those modern Americans are exploring the remote reaches of the south pacific and south America. So buy this book for the adventure and the laughs. There are plenty of both. As you read it, however, take a moment to enjoy the deeper observations and reflect on how crazy your own family is. How no one in a family gets to do exactly what they want exactly when they want to. And yet those little sacrifices are worth it, because for good or ill our families define who we are and who we will be. Whether we emulate our parents or use them as the epitome of what we do not want to be, their influence is undeniable. That gets explored in this little gem of a book as well.