Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost

Plucked from Audible.com, this was a well-read....travel book? Let's call it a travel book. Non-fiction, this details Troost and his girlfriend, Sylvia's desire to just do something, get away and escape reality. Only in their 20s, going to a war-torn, desolate area for humanity work sounded good to them. Cue Tarawa.

I will admit I have never heard of Tarawa, let alone be able to point to it on the map. It's on the equator, which means it's HOT! (as Troost mentions many times) and it's a small little island that barely has a functioning plane, a runway where children and pigs play, no electricity, no running water and no discernible way to get rid of waste.

It's clearly not the island paradise Troost and Sylvia were expecting. But they stayed for 2 years while Sylvia worked to educate and help the natives. This is truly a book of misadventures as the city folk get used to life on a remote island (where dog-eat-dog has a whole new meaning and fish is your meal for every meal for years). There were many many laugh out loud moments and just as many moments where I found I was just smiling, which probably confused other drivers who passed me.

Yes, it's a travel book, but you get schooled in Tarawa history. I felt a little abashed that I didn't even know battles had been fought there, with many lives lost. Troost wasn't condescending but obviously felt that Americans should know this history, and he's right.

I would recommend listening to this book because the narrator, Simon Vance, did a wonderful job.

Aside: the title is a bit misleading although the history of the island is discussed and there are cannibals involved and apparently a close island to Tarawa is known for oral sex....so....not so misleading?
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