Okay – first off I have to say that my first feeling upon finishing this book was disappointment.
I. Was. Disappointed.
BUT (come back, Elizabeth! We caOkay – first off I have to say that my first feeling upon finishing this book was disappointment.
I. Was. Disappointed.
BUT (come back, Elizabeth! We can still be besties!) that disappointment was because this really does end the arc for Muh-LAH-chee (I CANNOT HELP MYSELF!) and Ava. That makes me sad. I want to know more!
The second feeling (I’m making an open-faced sandwich here; or a sandwich with the delicious cheese on the bottom, the meat of criticism in the middle, and a tiny layer of…deceptively positive…avocados? on top. this metaphor was long, unwieldy, and poorly constructed.) was a gut stab of irritation/chagrin about a referenced sexual assault. This was due to outside influences, and on further review, I’ve decided that the referenced assault furthered the story and helped develop the characters, and did not detract at all from the plot or main character development. So, my criticism-meat was very, very thin. And probably did not even need to be mentioned.
Now for the cheese portion of my sandwich. (Cheese is my favorite and so is the best part of any review.)
As I stated in my cover reveal post, my intro to Ms. Hunter (I’m being all formal again until she forgives me for my sandwich metaphor) was with this series and I loved Ava and the Italian (he’s not Italian) since the first pages.
The chemistry they build together was not shattered in this last installment. The way they had to rebuild, in fact, in the wake of their [forced] separation and weird amnesia issues seemed natural – as much as anything like that could be.
Finding out all the fun secrets (oh, I wonder where that title came from?) about Ava’s past and my desire to kick certain members of her family in anatomically sensitive places kept me up past my bedtime.
I love the world-building that Elizabeth has done, both in this series and in her others. She is a master of magical realism, unlike some others that I’ve recently read, and having sorted though a lot of dreck lately makes me appreciate even more how well she wields a pen.
The other thing I really *really* appreciate is that Ava doesn’t cease to be her own person when she enters a relationship. In fact, I’ve seen no evidence that any of Elizabeth’s characters do that. She writes – GASP – strong female characters.
There are a lot of characters, but they are so nuanced that it’s not a problem to keep track of each of the more prominent ones as well as their various personalities. The best part about that? It makes me feel that there could be (read: NEED TO BE) more books in this particular world.
Love. Lots of it. I love this book and this series almost as much as I love everyone’s favorite Hawaiian shirt wearing Welsh vampire.
This is the first book in my "Read all the Nobel for Literature authors" challenge. Herta Muller won the 2009 Nobel Prize, and this was the first bookThis is the first book in my "Read all the Nobel for Literature authors" challenge. Herta Muller won the 2009 Nobel Prize, and this was the first book that came up in the library search, so The Passport it is!
When I started this book, I had two immediate thoughts.
1. This is definitely the work of an award winning writer. (This is not to say I liked it, merely that I could tell it would be appealing to an awarding body much in the same way that I can tell that, even though I enjoy Stephen King more, I doubt he will win the Nobel Prize.)
2. I wish I could read this in the original German, for I fear it may lose something in translation.
Alas, since I can only read about 20 words in German (and my knowledge of counting to ten and random exclamations [Bitte! Gesundheit! Machen sie schnell!]), I am stuck with the English translation.
This is a heart-wrenching book, set in a German village in Romania after WWII. Communism is new, Ceausescu is the chief Comrade (or whatever), and those who were young during the war (and survived it) are now approaching middle age.
The main character, Windisch (the miller), and his family (like so many others in the village) are waiting for passports to emigrate to West Germany. This is the story of the waiting.
It's written in very short, choppy sentences which serves to make the reader feel like she cannot quite catch her breath. The relationships between Windisch, his wife, his daughter & the others in the town are also choppy. Everything is rather abrupt.
Overall, a great read, even if a bit on the depressing side...I did find it a bit hard to follow some of the characters, and the book was so short that by the time I finally figured out who everyone was, it was over....more
I love Neil Gaiman, and he is on my list of xx number of people living or dead you'd like to have dinner with whenever I get asked that question at inI love Neil Gaiman, and he is on my list of xx number of people living or dead you'd like to have dinner with whenever I get asked that question at interviews. Also, Stephen King.
BUT - that's neither here nor there, right?
The point of a book review is to talk about a book, generally speaking.
The book was beautiful. I don't buy many books made out of trees anymore, but I always make an exception for treasured volumes, and I knew this was destined to become one.
I devoured the book in one afternoon, and cried when it was over because I didn't want it to end. It was a beautiful journey and made me almost remember things from my childhood that no longer exist. Almost. I generally love being an adult, but today I was sad that I don't explore anymore. Tomorrow, I will take my son and we will explore. Thank you, Neil.
Edited to add: When I saved my review, Goodreads brought up a list of my friends that I thought might enjoy the book so I could recommend it to them. On that list? Neil Gaiman. I almost hit the "recommend" button, but then I decided he's probably already read it. He's usually on top of those things....more
OMFG. Seriously. I wouldn't have classified the Walker Papers series in my top paranormal romance picks before #6 here. I mean, I'd read them all, butOMFG. Seriously. I wouldn't have classified the Walker Papers series in my top paranormal romance picks before #6 here. I mean, I'd read them all, but hadn't paid much attention to when #6 was being released (like I do w/ my Kate Daniels & Mercedes Thompson books). In fact, I believe this actually came out in April. That's right - five whole months before I even noticed.
BUT BUT BUT - I read it in one sitting, have subsequently read it again, and have read the last half of the last chapter 1 million times (approximately). LOVE LOVE LOVE.
ANYWAYS - On to the review:
The Story Joanne Walker reluctantly entered the world of the supernatural in Book 1 (Urban Shaman) when she was skewered by Cernunnos and given the choice to live as a shaman or die. Much like the choice between cake or death, it seemed an easy one at the time. However, once reality set in, she spent a lot of time sulking and/or screwing up royally. (One of the reasons I was not obsessed with the first five books - it took her that long to get a grip, grow up, and take responsibility for her powers.)
She is a detective with the Seattle PD, and one half of SPD's only paranormal detective team. Her partner, Billy Holliday (his parents maybe didn't think that one through), sees dead people (or, more accurately, murdered people). Her best friend, Gary Muldoon, is a 74-year-old cab driver who ran off to San Diego for the duration of this book (my only real complaint - I love Gary), and the other major players are Billy's wife Melinda (a bruja!), Joanne's friend/spirit guide Coyote (Cyrano), and her boss, Morrison.
This book takes place around St. Patrick's Day, or, more specifically just before the spring equinox and during the full moon. Someone in Seattle is kidnapping the homeless and murdered (supernaturally, of course) the lead dancer in a Native American dance troupe. Joanne must work with Billy, Mel, and Morrison to find the supernatural killer before more people die.
BUT - I can't tell you the best part of the story (I hate spoilers), and it likely wouldn't BE the best part if you hadn't read the previous five books. There is romantic build up that happened for five previous books! And FINALLY. Something came of it. BUT, that something happened in the last half of the last chapter. And then? Nothing! DAMN YOU CE MURPHY! (PS - Book #7 comes out in March 2012.)
The Score Romance/Sexytimes: A+ – Okay - so it was slow in coming (hee), and there wasn't a lot there, but OMFG (again), YAY!
Writing: B+ – I enjoy the writing. It's definitely on the level of my other favorite paranormal series(es?), and I am finally liking Joanne a lot more, too.
Paranormality: A- – First off, I love books set in places I can visit. Secondly, I like the gradual exposure to the Seattle paranormal world. Nothing seems forced or completely off the wall. It's all very believable; especially with some of the mysteries that remain - like what's the deal really with Mel's power & Gary's ability to drive with the Force?
Book Score: A Solid A for reals.....so much love for this book. Perhaps I will read it again tonight. And every day until #7 comes out in March. I wish I was the kind of person who got advanced reading copies. I need to know someone. ...more
The type of book that I like best is the type of book that drives me to research. Whether it's mythological, anthropological, historical, or some hardThe type of book that I like best is the type of book that drives me to research. Whether it's mythological, anthropological, historical, or some hard science "-ology," if a book makes me think and yearn to know more, then it is, in my opinion, a pretty good book.
When you add to that a compelling storyline, a well-written narrative, and the ability to leave me gasping and bereft at the end, I will nominated said book as a winner. ...more
I find myself wanting to write an amazing review to really do justice to this book - one of the best I've read in a long time - but there's no real waI find myself wanting to write an amazing review to really do justice to this book - one of the best I've read in a long time - but there's no real way to do it justice.
I loved it. I'm not just saying that because I know the author. (If I hated it, I'd just *forget* to review it.)
This book was such a great story - the protagonist, who confusingly has the same name as the author - is putting together the pieces of his life. He grew up in Yugoslavia & lived through the beginnings of the Bosnian War before emigrating to the US (Los Angeles, specifically) at the age of 18 instead of joining the army. The secondary protagonist, Mustafa, did not leave Bosnia, but instead DID join the army, which didn't necessary go well for him (and why would it?).
It was thought-provoking and honest - for all that it's a work of fiction masquerading as a memoir. (That was the hardest part for me, really...I found myself being VERY concerned with the pieces that talk about Melissa - character Ismet's California girlfriend. I had to remind myself a LOT that this was fiction.)
The language and imagery is fantastic. I could see and feel more than I wanted to; it wasn't easy to escape the stark glimpses of a post-Soviet, war-torn country. I found myself being impressed that the language was so fantastic, especially since the author did not, I presume, grow up reading/writing/speaking English. (And for all that I know the author and know that he speaks English fluently.)
The premise of this book is pretty much given away in the title. It's a bunch of short stories written about people who have found out how they are goThe premise of this book is pretty much given away in the title. It's a bunch of short stories written about people who have found out how they are going to die via a blood test given by a machine.
I was not familiar with the editor (Ryan North), nor any of the contributors, I don't think. This was a book club selection. Overall, I quite enjoyed it - this was definitely not something I would've picked up on my own.
However, the quality of the story telling varied widely from tale to tale. Some were definitely more polished, and the authors had a better grasp of what makes a good story (including the writing style, rhythm, and in a few cases, grammar).
During the book club discussion, however, it was determined that what I consider a good story is not always echoed by all (shocker, right?). For example, one story entitle Love Ad Nauseum, was a series of personal ads placed after the Death Machine had been loosed on the world, each ad placing greater restrictions on who the woman would date based on cause of death. I thought it was boring & a cop-out, others found it to be fairly clever.
Many of the stories dealt with the inevitability of the cause of death & the way people reacted. Those reactions ranged from living in fear of whatever the cause was, and doing their best to avoid it as long as possible, to taking up activities that would've been scary before (such as sky diving) knowing that they'd die of something else (lung cancer or something), to reveling in the planned death (most notably in the story entitled Torn Apart & Devoured By Lions.
There was some discussion at my book club about fate (with one member in particular hating the whole concept of these stories based on his complete lack of belief in fate and inevitability), and it was determined that the stories did start to become a little repetitive after awhile.
Overall, however, the concept was interesting, many of the stories were well-written and interesting, and it's always nice to pick up a book that wouldn't have otherwise caught my eye.
Some of my favorite stories from the collection included: Heat Death of the Universe Torn Apart & Devoured by Lions Killed By Daniel Firing Squad Not Waving But Drowning Improperly Prepared Blowfish Exhaustion From Having Sex With a Minor although the twist at the end of this one almost ruined the whole story for me. It felt like a cop-out. Nothing and Prison Knife Fight
I would definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys short stories, a little morbidity in their reading, thinking about predestination, or all three....more
I was so excited to get home & find this book on my doorstep! I love me some paranormal romance, and although as a feminist, I have trouble with wI was so excited to get home & find this book on my doorstep! I love me some paranormal romance, and although as a feminist, I have trouble with women in love with werewolves in books (since they all seem to say, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't hurt me, but I should be careful because he is short-tempered/violent/etc.), I manage to get over that.
I have loved this series. So much. This book kind of went in a different direction, what with leaving the Tri-Cities, but I thought it was a great way to handle the story now that the romantic tension between the main characters is mostly gone (since they're married & all).
Good history on Mercedes, love that the Native American spirituality got to come out & play, since most of the other supernatural characters have traditionally been of European descent (fae, vamps, werewolves) with the exception of Mercedes.
I did miss the rest of the regular characters who didn't get as much of a showing after the wedding, but it was nice to give Adam & Mercy some alone time on their honeymoon, even if that alone time did involve nearly getting killed a lot, meeting a thunderbird, running into scary, scary otters, and being the only campers in a fae-owned campground.
I flew through the book in one night, so anxious had I been to get to it, but (as per usual), I know I'll sit down & give it another, more leisurely read-through soon. I just hope this isn't the last in the Mercedes Thompson series. ...more
In terms of paranormal romance, Keri Arthur scores pretty high on the sexytimes meter. When I read her Riley Jenson Guardian series (set in Australia!In terms of paranormal romance, Keri Arthur scores pretty high on the sexytimes meter. When I read her Riley Jenson Guardian series (set in Australia! I love Australia!), after reading the first in paperback, I had to buy the rest electronically, because I was waaaaay too embarrassed to be caught reading them in public. In fact, there were times I would have to look around just to make sure no one was reading over my shoulder.
The graphic sex aside, the books were fairly well written, and on one sleepless night, I accidentally bought another Keri Arthur book (oh, Nook! you are so good for instant gratification, and so bad for my pocketbook!) - the first in Keri's Myth & Magic series (called "Destiny Kills"). So, a couple of weeks ago on yet another sleepless night, I thought I'd check out the second book in the series.
I was actually hoping for a little more of the protagonists in the first book, as they were really interesting characters, but this really is a stand-alone, and although those characters are mentioned, they are barely even peripheral.
The story Mercy is a draman. That's half human/half dragon for the uninitiated (Ms. Arthur sure does love her halfsy main characters - in Destiny kills the main character is half air dragon/half sea dragon, and Riley Jenson [who got her own 9-book series] is half werewolf/half vampire). She wakes up all disoriented after a terrible car wreck and finds out that her bestie is dead. Now, ordinarily that would be sad enough, but for dragons, unless someone is hanging with your dead body at sunrise, you just burn up & your soul is doomed to...something...maybe wander the earth endlessly? ANYWAYS - it is bad.
BUT - there is hope! If Mercy can figure out who caused the accident that killed her bff, and then kill the person(s) responsible, her friend can go to the forever lands, which I'm assuming is Dragon Heaven. Unfortunately, she only has a week to do so!
In her quest to find out, not only who killed her friend, but is also killing a bunch of other dramans, she is kidnapped and meets Mr. Muerte. (That's actually not his name, but instead his job description.) Muerte (or Damon, if you want to know his name) is a full-blooded air dragon who was also investigating the disappearance/murder of the dramans. Not because he (or the dragon council) particularly cares about these half-breeds, but more because some dragon king's son accidentally got himself killed. (I think - I'm a little hazy on a couple plot points.)
Obvs Damon & Mercy have the hots for each other (sometimes literally, as she can control the air dragon fire gift even better than full-blooded air dragons, even if she missed out on getting wings), but will his prejudices and his commitment to his job as dragon council enforcer (of death!) get in the way? Will they find out who killed her friend and free the friend's soul?
And the score!
Romance/Sexytimes: A- Not nearly as graphic as the Riley Jenson series, for which my flaming cheeks thank the author, but still plenty of tension & the sex scenes didn't make me laugh! (Always good.)
Writing: B+ I think the story is well-crafted and fairly well written. I've recently tried to read what is possibly the worst-written paranormal romance of all time, and am tempted to give everyone who writes actual literate sentences an A+ from here on out. BUT - Keri Arthur is a great author, although I did prefer the Riley Jenson series, just for the authentic Australian slang! This series is set in the US, and although a few phrases made it through the editor, it wasn't as much fun for me.
Paranormality: B I don't find the settings to be as realistic (so-to-speak) as other series. Not to say there was anything particular I could point a finger at, but the whole "it's okay if someone sees a dragon, no one will believe them" method of maintaining secrecy is a bit laughable. Especially when, if you've read the first in the series, you know that there are already a bunch of scientists capturing & studying the dragons.
Book Overall: B+ Not a bad job, really. Paranormal romances can get so out-of-control with trying to fit in all the mythology that they forget the story. This was a great story that would've been a straight-out dirty romance book if the protagonists weren't dragons. The fact that they were is what makes me feel okay reading it!
Series Overall: B+/A- I'm not sure how I feel about grading the series, since both books in the series have really been stand-alones that don't build on the previous stories.
So! I liked it! But, in all honesty, not quite as much as I liked the Riley Jenson series. Which is much, much dirtier (and, which I refer to as "werewolf p0rn"). ...more
I really, really liked this book. It did, however, make me want to chuck my running shoes & buy a pair of Vibrams (or, as I usually refer to them,I really, really liked this book. It did, however, make me want to chuck my running shoes & buy a pair of Vibrams (or, as I usually refer to them, the creepy shoes).
The story of the Tarahumara runners was fascinating; add to that all the sciency (it is too a word) information about running (I especially liked the evolutionary biology bits) and the information about injury prevent & diet, and I was hooked.
I'm fairly certain that my enjoyment of this book hinged on me a) being a runner and b) being a trail runner; I would love to know if a non-runner would find it equally as fascinating.
I had planned on doing an ultra-marathon at some point in my life, and now want to work on my running technique and maybe do one this year (although not Leadville...I'm not that crazy).
The writing was pretty good, although since I don't follow the ultra scene, there were too many names & people to keep track of, and I would've liked a cast of characters. The story was very straightforward, but was interspersed with all the "other" information, but I didn't find any of that distracting at all. That kind of organization can be hit or miss, but in this case it was very well done.
I love English history, literature, tea, scones, accents, cities, and beer. In fact, my family even has a manor in England! (And, by my family, I meanI love English history, literature, tea, scones, accents, cities, and beer. In fact, my family even has a manor in England! (And, by my family, I mean, waaaay back, if you trace my last name, you get to England. And then, if you trace some of those people forward, you'll find out that they were slightly fancier than their American cousins & got to be Lords & Ladies & meet Shakespeare & Queen Elizabeth I, and have a giant manor that looks like a castle.)
ANYWAYS. So, I love the Brits.
My favorite period in all of English history is the period following William the Conqueror's...conquering of England through the Third Crusade (i.e. late 12th century). AND, my favorite historical figure from that time is Eleanor of Aquitaine. (Also, my favorite movie of all time? The Lion in Winter. Hands down.)
So - this book, which is historical fiction, is set in the time preceding Henry II & Eleanor's ascension to the throne of England. It covers the war between King Stephen & Empress Matilda (Maude) as they fight over the throne of England. She was the only surviving (legitimate) child of Henry I, and expected the throne to come to her (even though she was gasp* a woman); Stephen was her cousin who usurped her throne, leading a period of bloody, horrible civil war.
The book does a great job of describing & personifying the horrors of war and showing the effect on the people of England, as well as on those doing the fighting (or orchestrating the fighting).
Even though I knew the general story, I was very impressed with the way it unfolded. I am excited to read her next two books which further develop the stories of Henry II & Eleanor (who only really came into their own as characters in the last half of the book), and would recommend this (fairly long & weighty read) to anyone interested in military history, English history or medieval love stories....more
**spoiler alert** This was a very interesting story. It's based in my town (yay! Portland!) and is, at least in the beginning, set in Forest Park - wh**spoiler alert** This was a very interesting story. It's based in my town (yay! Portland!) and is, at least in the beginning, set in Forest Park - where I spend a lot of my free running time (yay! trail running!). In addition, it's based on a true story, so that's even better (in a manner of speaking - the trueness of the story is actually probably not better for the people involved).
So - the gist (mild spoilers):
A veteran and his daughter live in Forest Park, coming into Portland (across my bridge! to my Safeway!) to collect his disability checks and buy the food they cannot grow. They move around fairly frequently in the Park and spend about four years there, undetected.
They are finally discovered, and brought in & held for awhile by Social Services (I'm sure to make sure that there was no abuse or other weirdness going on). They are placed on a ranch; the father is given a job, and the daughter, who was homeschooled very well during their tenure in the Park, is to start school.
And then - they disappear again.
Although the above does contain mild spoilers, those are the basic facts of the true story. What happens next - which I'm NOT going to talk about - is where the author takes over the string of events.
I found the story very interesting and engaging - a really quick read. Although I understand (to a point) the desire to live off the grid and to keep your child innocent of the world (the father quotes Thoreau a lot), I think that it's a little unrealistic and found myself really disliking the father - especially towards the end of the book.
His paranoia got worse as the story went on, and I'm sure there was some kind of PTSD from his war service, but I think that his actions are very nearly inexcusable.
Also? Now every time I'm in Forest Park alone, I feel a little paranoid that I'm suddenly going to stumble across a large encampment of itinerants and they'll kill me so I don't reveal their location. (Okay - I don't actually feel that way - I stay on the trails...but I do feel like I'm being watched ALL THE TIME.)
So - a good read, a decent story. I enjoyed the way the author took the basic facts and spun something very engaging from those facts. I do wish his mind had gone more towards the "and they lived happily ever after in a lovely remote compound in Idaho" ending than where it did go, but I can't fault him for that...my mind hardly ever does happily ever after, either.
I enjoyed about 90% of this book. Some of the beginning parts I could have written myself. I found it to be a fairly well-researched and very well-wriI enjoyed about 90% of this book. Some of the beginning parts I could have written myself. I found it to be a fairly well-researched and very well-written book. I did like that he focused not just on the major religions (Islam, Judaism and Christianity), but also on the slightly less popular, although equally well-known (Hinduism & Buddhism) and even some rather obscure ones (the Cargo Cults & John Frum worshippers of the South Pacific). There's even a large section on the depravities of secular leaders such as Hitler, Stalin & Mussolini.
There are a lot of good points regarding the relationship between religion and fear of/contempt for women. Almost all religions have restrictions about what women can & cannot do - especially during their menstruation when they are UNCLEAN! It is interesting and depressing that so many religions blame women for the problems (Eve, all that tempting we do with our evil bodies, etc.) but then simultaneously feel the need to shelter us from harm because we are so delicate! I hate the madonna/whore attitude.
I am not sure I would actually call myself an atheist. I'm definitely a secular humanist, though. I think that religion (of all types) generally does more harm than good. If you look at the horrors & depravities in the world, so many of them are caused by religion, started by religious institutions, covered up by the same religious institutes, or, even when not directly influenced by religion (I'm looking at the Nazis here), quietly supported by religious institutes.
It's easy to say that's all in the past (for the Christians - many of whom would blame the Muslims for all religious strike now-adays), but just because there are no modern Crusades doesn't mean that there aren't depravities.
The part that I appreciated the most was the pointing out that it doesn't take religion to be a moral human being. My morals might be different than yours, but yours are probably different than the Catholic's down the street, or the Buddhist in NYC.
An argument I've actually heard is, "well if you don't have religion, what's keeping you from going out & doing whatever you want?" All that makes me do is wonder if that's what you would do? Is fear of hell/retribution/an angry god the only thing keeping you from knocking over the convenience store down the street, raping the cashier, killing the security guard and setting the whole thing on fire? Really? Because I actually find it pretty easy to get through my day without killing anyone and with a clear conscience.
There were parts of the book that I did find infuriating. It seemed to be a great concession for Mr. Hitchens to admit that there were some good believers out there. Knowing quite a few people who I would call spiritual as opposed to religious, I know that just as a lack of religion doesn't make me amoral, neither does a professed belief in god (or some higher power) make a person a gibbering, immoral idiot.
I object to religion being used as an excuse to legislate ANYTHING. The 10 Commandments are not the reason we shouldn't murder. Argue that something is immoral according to your religious code does not mean that your code should be codified into law, it just means that you shouldn't participate in whatever you find immoral. Don't like gay marriage? Don't get gay married. But don't tell other people that they, with a differing moral code, cannot get gay married. Unless you come up with a valid reason that has nothing to do with religion (like, every time there's a gay wedding, five bald eagles die, or the Ozone hole gets larger, or kittens lose some cuteness), there is no reason to argue.
So - in summary: a well-written book that I would urge everyone to read (regardless of your religious views - or lack thereof). There are definitely some infuriating areas, and things I didn't agree with, but it was informative, entertaining, and mostly right. ...more
Huh. Well. What to say about this book that won't put off the rest of my book club fellows before they've read it.
I did not enjoy this book. I think iHuh. Well. What to say about this book that won't put off the rest of my book club fellows before they've read it.
I did not enjoy this book. I think it probably could've been named "The Depressing Isles of Oceania" and been a lot more accurate.
The author is not a very happy person as he travels in his collapsible kayak around the isles. This is perhaps a bit understandable as he & his wife have just split up.
However, there doesn't seem to be anything that can make him happy. People are either too helpful, or not helpful enough. He's desperately afraid that he's going to be robbed in (American and Western) Samoa. He really seems to have a problem with fat people (repeatedly mentioning that certain islanders are fat, such as Samoans, Tongans, various chiefs, etc.).
He searches for the decadence of the mythical South Pacific, but seems a little disturbed when it's actually hinted at. He abhors religious (which, fine, I'm not fond of it either), but actually will challenge and mock individuals for their faith. I'm always up for a debate, but I think he mistook the word "debate" for "baiting."
I have never been anywhere close to the Isles Mr. Theroux visits (not even Hawaii...sigh), and although I do believe they're likely not the paradise depicted by films and books, I have a hard time believing that they are as sad & depressed & lazy & gluttonous & obnoxious & unfriendly & nosy as they are depicted in this book.
In one of what I thought was the most telling passages in the book, Mr. Theroux scoffs at anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl's belief that the Moai statues on Easter Island could not have been created by the Polynesian inhabitants of the island**: "Probably the most obnoxious aspect of Heyerdahl is that he appears to display a deep bias, bordering on contempt, against Polynesians. In Fatu-Hiva, he maintains that the Marquesans are too lazy to have create the ambitious stonework and carvings on Hiva Oa." This is funny, considering he spends a lot of the book's chapters talking about the laziness of the Pacific Islanders (from the chapter on American Samoa): "[The American Samoans:] were victimizers, they were oafish, and lazy, and defiant, and disrespectful."
Overall, I hope that Mr. Theroux is in a happier place now (he seemed much happier in Hawaii, although whether that was due to the fact that he was beginning to accept his divorce, or whether the comforts of America were all he needed for a good cheer up, I can't say) - and I'd like to read another book about this region from a more positive point of view.
**I am trying to say that the reason he scoffs is what amuses me - it's been proven that the Easter Islanders are in fact of Polynesian (Marquesas, I think) descent, and that they did, indeed, create the Moai statues....more