J. Maarten Troost

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Gooooooood Morning Vietnam! Or Kiribati, or maybe China

I read my first Troost last year in the form of the incredibly titled “The Sex Lives of Cannibals. Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific.” (Not pictured here because it was a library book, I should rectify that.)

The Sex Lives of Cannibals was a pretty wild ride. Troost has a very specific narrative voice, and I think it can be hit or miss with readers. He comes at you with a candid point of view, but it is not an objective one. His titles are often inflammatory and polarizing to the natives he encounters.

 Troost admits that his books are a sum of his experiences, both good and bad and that his travels color his feelings about places. He makes no pretenses about not bringing everyone and/or everything under a fair and impartial light. Maybe that isn’t what you are looking for when you’re writing a research paper or planning a vacation, but it is refreshing in its own way.

What I like most about Troost is that despite not enjoying every place he goes, he clearly cares about the human condition and the people he meets. He is able to describe the environment and bring to life scenes and scenery that add a deeper level of understanding to his stories. It is like a behind the scenes look at wherever he is traveling, the things you wont see on the tourist tour.  Despite his sensationalized titles and self-deprecating plot lines painting him as the dumb American (of which is only partially true, he lives in America, but was born in the Netherlands and has lived in Canada, the Czech Republic, Kiribati, Vanuatu, And Fiji) he is actually a solid source of information and a distinctly talented writer.

If you haven’t yet, give him a chance. You will learn a lot, and perhaps laugh some too. Since reading The Sex Lives of Cannibals I have never missed a chance to discuss the Kiribati atolls, so how about that?

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