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The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific by [Paul Theroux]

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The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 253 ratings


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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

The peripatetic author of Riding the Iron Rooster, etc., etc., ventures with a collapsible kayak to the remote and scattered islands of the South Pacific. With a farewell to his marriage, and loneliness at his back, Theroux begins his extraordinary mission in New Zealand's Fiordland (``As long as there is wilderness there is hope''), moves on to Australia (a continent ``terrified by its own emptiness''), and then to Melanesia, Polynesia--Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, New Guinea's Trobriands, etc.--and, finally, Hawaii. He paddles the sea, he says, in the wake of myth-makers Melville, Stevenson, Gauguin, Maugham, and the Frenchman Captain Bougainville, who, in 1768, believed he'd found not only the Garden of Eden but Venus when a ``barebreasted Tahitian girl'' climbed into his ship from a canoe. To keen-eyed Theroux, the Polynesian islands are ``pleasant and feckless'' but far from paradise. Even Gauguin's Marquesas are ``dramatic at a distance'' but ``close up--muddy and jungly and priest-ridden.'' Traditional islands are ``riddled with magic, superstition, myths, dangers, rivalries and its old routines.'' Always interesting are Theroux's encounters with archaeologists who have disproved Thor Heyerdahl's popularizing theories about Polynesia. Sifting through human and animal bones, they study a still-mysterious people who carved some 800 stone statues on Easter Island and who boasted navigational skills that sent them migrating during what was Europe's Dark Ages. A sense of being beyond the reach of civilization comes when, in his intrepid kayak, off Easter Island and between the rock-battering surf and the Pacific, Theroux removes his headphones, ``hears the immense roar of waves and the screaming wind,'' and is terrified. A vast and contemplative book, seeing the ``Pacific as a universe, and the islands like stars in all that space.'' Informative not only for the voyager, but also for those wanting a new perspective on the Western continents of home. (Sorely lacking a map.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Despite the euphoric title, Oceania as Theroux ( Riding the Iron Rooster ) experienced it was only occasionally a carefree paradise. In the Trobriand Islands, celebrated by anthropologists for their supposed sexual freedom, the novelist and travel writer found prostitution and fear of rape. Samoa struck him as noisy, vandalized, with American-style conspicuous consumption. The intrepid Theroux discussed world politics with the king of Tonga, encountered class consciousness in Honolulu, mingled with street gangs in Auckland, and lived in a bamboo hut in Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides), where he investigated a cargo cult and rumors of cannibalism. In Australia he braved the Woop Woop (remote outback) to camp with Aborigines. This exhilarating epic ranks with Theroux's best travel books. It is full of disarming observations, high adventure and memorable characters rendered with keen irony. First serial to New York Times Magazine; BOMC featured alternate; QPB alternate.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • ASIN : B00AH37F2Q
  • Publisher : Mariner Books; 1st edition (December 8, 2006)
  • Publication date : December 8, 2006
  • Language : English
  • File size : 2371 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Screen Reader : Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Enabled
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print length : 530 pages
  • Lending : Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 253 ratings

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
253 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on July 18, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on March 18, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on September 25, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on October 15, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on October 9, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on July 25, 2020
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Top reviews from other countries

J_R_Sailby
4.0 out of 5 stars No or terrible proof-reading of clearly OCR-generated digital version, but weirdly it doesn't matter...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 2, 2014
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Lovely Journey with Paul Theroux
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 19, 2017
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mog
5.0 out of 5 stars This is real Travel writing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 22, 2012
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6 people found this helpful
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JAMES CHRISTISON
5.0 out of 5 stars Comfortable read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 1, 2018
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aaa
1.0 out of 5 stars Terribly written book and i regret buying
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 16, 2015
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2 people found this helpful
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