J. Maarten Troost is an odd bird to me. On one hand he leads the life I wish I did, on the other he is a polar opposite. Over his two “travelogues” I have never been able to connect with the author himself but amazingly it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying the books. The novels follow Mr. Troost and his fiance on their journey following college. Neither wants to give up freedom for a cubicle so they hatch a plan to work in paradise. By they he means his fiance though who is left to find gainful employment while he gets a permanent vacation… he claims to be a writer. His actual writing doesn’t start until the events of the second book. These tropical “paradises” in the South Pacific turn out to be anything but and he is ill equipped in both skill and knowledge to do much of anything but survive and blindly hope for the best.
If you were to read only one, make it The Sex Lives of Cannibals. The first book is much more humorous and lively, but as I wind down with the second I can’t say it isn’t worth the read just not up to the standards of the first. In both books his pacing and storytelling can leave a lot to be desired but he does an adequate job of getting his story out. My main gripe is with the author himself. I can’t help but see him as a fake. A total fake. He does such a big job of painting himself as a free spirit complete with a penchant for illicit substances and a slacker attitude… yet the second book begins with him working high up in the World Bank. It’s also clear he was born with quite a sizable silver spoon in his mouth. The fakeness oozes out throughout the books and it is impossible to shake no matter how much you like the tale. A good read, that I’m happy to have stumbled upon, but also happy to be done with.