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The Happy Isles of Oceania

New or Used: 4 copies from $4.94
Paul Theroux invites us to join him on one of his most exotic and tantalizing adventures exploring the coasts and blue lagoons of the Pacific Islands, and taking up residence to discover the secrets of these isles. Theroux is a mesmerizing narrator - brilliant, witty, keenly perceptive as he floats through Gauguin landscapes, sails in the wake of Captain Cook and recalls the bewitching tales of Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson. Alone in his kayak, paddling to seldom visited shores, he glides through time and space, discovering a world of islands, their remarkable people, and in turn, happiness. `A sharp, fascinating and highly entertaining book ... Theroux at his best' Daily Telegraph.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 Meganesia: New Zealand - the land of the long white cloud; New Zealand - sloshing through the South Island; waffling in white Australia; walkabout in Woop Woop; north of the never-never. Part 2 Melanesia: buoyant in the peaceful Trobiands; aground in the troubled Trobriands; the Solomon - down and dirty in Guadalcanal; the Solomons - in the Egg Fields of Savo Island; Vanuatu - cannibals and missionaries; the oddest island in Vanuatu; Fiji - the dividied island of Viti Levu; Fiji - Vanua Levu and the islets of Bligh Water. Part 3 Polynesia: Tonga - the royal island of Tongatapu; Tonga - alone on the desert islands of Vava'u; in the backwaters of Western Samoa; American Samoa - the littered lagoon; Tahiti - the windward shore of the island of love; a voyage to the Marquesas; the Cook Islands - in the lagoon of Aitutaki; Easter Island - beyond the surf zone of Rapa Nui; Easter Island - the old canoe ramp at Tongariki. Part 4 Paradise: Oahu - open espionage in Honalulu; Kauai - following the dolphins on the Na Pali coast; Niihau and Lanai - some men are islands; the big island - paddling in the state of grace.

About the Author

Paul Theroux was born in Medford, Massachusetts in 1941. He has written many works of fiction and travel writing, including The Last Train to Zona Verde, Dark Star Safari, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Elephanta Suite, A Dead Hand, The Tao of Travel and The Lower River. The Mosquito Coast and Dr Slaughter have both been made into successful films. Paul Theroux divides his time between Cape Cod and the Hawaiian islands. His most recent work is Deep South, which is published by Hamish Hamilton.


Despite the euphoric title, Oceania as Theroux ( Riding the Iron Rooster ) experienced it was only occasionally a carefree paradise. In the Trobriand Islands, celebrated by anthropologists for their supposed sexual freedom, the novelist and travel writer found prostitution and fear of rape. Samoa struck him as noisy, vandalized, with American-style conspicuous consumption. The intrepid Theroux discussed world politics with the king of Tonga, encountered class consciousness in Honolulu, mingled with street gangs in Auckland, and lived in a bamboo hut in Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides), where he investigated a cargo cult and rumors of cannibalism. In Australia he braved the Woop Woop (remote outback) to camp with Aborigines. This exhilarating epic ranks with Theroux's best travel books. It is full of disarming observations, high adventure and memorable characters rendered with keen irony. First serial to New York Times Magazine; BOMC featured alternate; QPB alternate. (June)

The best-selling author of My Secret History ( LJ 4/1/89) and Riding the Iron Rooster ( LJ 6/15/88) spent 18 months in a one-man collapsible kayak exploring such exotic Pacific islands as New Zealand, Australia, the Soloman and Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, Easter Island, and Hawaii. Never a kind-hearted chronicler of place, he sets out on this voyage in an especially dour mood, leaving behind a failed marriage and expecting to be diagnosed with cancer at any moment. Soon after he escapes the crowded towns of Australia, however, he starts to lose some of his harsh edge and enjoy his travels, which ultimately heal him. A brilliant storyteller with an eye for the absurd, Theroux takes the reader to little-known places where time seems to have stood still and people lead simple lives totally unrelated to 20th-century America. Highly recommended for all libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/92.-- Lisa J. Cochenet, Rhinelander Dist. Lib., Wis.

"Engaging and at times brilliant...he goes places where the rest of us might fear to paddle, often beaching his kayak on a small South Pacific island without the foggiest idea whether those awaiting him will be friendly, indifferent, or anxious to give him a good thwack...well worth reading." USA Today"A superb blend of sharp-eyed observation and pungently expressed opinion. It's hardly paradise, this lovely part of the world, but Theroux makes it endlessly fascinating." Newsday"Feisty, eloquent, and vast in scope...a multilayered odyssey." The San Francisco Chronicle"Perceptive, terribly readable, and wickedly funny...[An] exhilarating book." --Book Review The Los Angeles Times

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