Monday, October 24, 2005

The Happy Isles of Oceania - Paddling the Pacific

By the master himself, Paul Theroux. I think this is my favourite book by Theroux. However, it doesn't get off to an auspicious start as he is having marital problems and is worried that he might have cancer. So he is really down in the dumps as well as down under. New Zealand and Australia to be precise. Then he is off across the Pacific with his collapsible kayak and his all-observing eye. Albeit a slightly jaundiced one at times.

I like Paul Theroux because there is a lot of himself in his books and especially this one. He is not afraid to reveal his emotions and motivation, especially when asking difficult questions. I also like the fact that he doesn't mind putting the boot in to a whole country (Australia) and can be scathing of inequality at times, like for instance the way that Japanese interests were mercilessly robbing Solomon Islanders with impunity.

He does, however, also get close to the people he meets on his travels and that is always the illuminating part of reading books by Paul Theroux. Some reviewers have said that Paul Theroux is happiest when he is as far away from humans as possible. I disagree, I think that he is perhaps happiest when he is as far as possible from so called 'civilisation' as possible, and that is a whole different thing. By the way - he didn't have cancer.

Read this book, it is well worth your time and you can get it from or


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