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Lost on Planet China: One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation Paperback – May 12, 2009
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GETTING STONED WITH SAVAGES
“One of Troost’s greatest successes is that he’s not reporting, exactly, not writing as a journalist would, but simply living his life in a faraway place and writing about it.”
--New York Times
“Troost manages to relate his misadventures in an irreverently funny style . . . this makes for a good beach read on your own vacation.”
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 him in the company of some of today’s best travel writers.” —Elle
About the Author
J. MAARTEN TROOST is the author of Getting Stoned with Savages and The Sex Lives of Cannibals. His 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 two sons in California.
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However, I have and still do spend a considerable amount of time in China, and my personal impressions are very different. There is a Chinese saying - “looking for bones in an egg”, which means that someone is deliberately looking for things to criticize. The author admits that he went to China with the purpose of writing this book, and if he weren’t describing various sorts of disasters and his adventures while overcoming them, then the book would be boring and not interesting to anyone. He even gives a taste of what’s to come in the very preface, by warning that this isn’t a typical travel book, and “there will be no f#@&1#g sunsets here”.
The bottom line is - the writing is enjoyable, but the content and conclusions are to be taken with a large grain of salt. If you have a chance to visit China, go and you won’t regret it.
Even though I've done the trek through Tiger Leaping Gorge that is detailed in the book, and many of the author's observations for a first-timer in China are true, it all just comes across as a little forced. I even quit reading two-thirds of the way through.
Think of the third in a series of movies where the original was incredible but the sequel and all that follow don't even come close. Maybe too high of a bar was set with Sex Lives. Funny moments came naturally and honestly in the first book. Lost on Planet China just seems like the author has to go looking for trouble to produce something funny to write about.
I do applaud Troost for sharing his initial observations of China without holding back any punches. It's not 'ethnic racism' to point out negative things that are true. Go breathe the air in Beijing for a week. Or get pointed and stared at -- you'll see that his take is hardly exaggerated.
Regardless, Troost is still witty and a fantastic writer, and I will certainly buy his works in the future.
Most recent customer reviews
Leaving conventional protocol behind ,he openly comments on every aspect of China's not so admired , hidden...Read more