In one of his most exotic and breathtaking journeys, the intrepid traveler Paul Theroux ventures to the South Pacific, exploring fifty-one islands by collapsible kayak. Beginning in New Zealand's rain forests and ultimately coming to shore thousands of miles away in Hawaii, Theroux paddles alone over isolated atolls, through dirty harbors and shark-filled waters, and along treacherous coastlines. This exhilarating tropical epic is full of disarming observations and high adventure.
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About the Author
PAUL THEROUX is the author of many highly acclaimed books. His novels include The Lower River and The Mosquito Coast, and his renowned travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and Dark Star Safari. He lives in Hawaii and Cape Cod.
Table of Contents
New Zealand: The Land of the Long White Cloud 17
New Zealand: Sloshing Through the South Island 25
Waffling in White Australia 36
Walkabout in Woop Woop 53
North of the Never-Never 73
Buoyant in the Peaceful Trobriands 105
Aground in the Troubled Trobriands 129
The Solomons: Down and Dirty in Guadalcanal 152
The Solomons: In the Egg Fields of Savo Island 164
Vanuatu: Cannibals and Missionaries 186
The Oddest Island in Vanuatu 201
Fiji: The Divided Island of Viti Levu 218
Fiji: Vanua Levu and the Islets of Bligh Water 239
Tonga: The Royal Island of Tongatapu 265
Tonga: Alone on the Desert Islands of Vava'u 293
In the Backwaters of Western Samoa 320
American Samoa: The Littered Lagoon 346
Tahiti: The Windward Shore of the Island of Love 360
A Voyage to the Marquesas 382
The Cook Islands: In the Lagoon of Aitutaki 410
Easter Island: Beyond the Surf Zone of Rapa Nui 435
Easter Island: The Old Canoe Ramp at Tongariki 456
O'ahu: Open Espionage inHonolulu 473
Kaua'i: Following the Dolphins on the Na Pali Coast 494
Ni'ihau and Lana'i: Some Men Are Islands 502
The Big Island: Paddling in the State of Grace 513
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
When I first read the description of The Happy Isles of Oceania I was impressed with the claim that theauthor had "paddled the Pacific". I thought he'd paddled across the ocean, Kon Tiki style. I was wrong. The subtext "Paddling the Pacific" refers to Mr. Theroux island hopping within groups of islands in his collapsible kayak. The book begins on a sad note - Mr. Theroux has parted with his wife and is expecting to hear back the results of a biopsy which could very well come back with news of cancer. The author heads to New Zealand and Australia ("Meganesia") on the pretext of a book tour and thus begins his delightful journey through the islands of the Pacific.At 526 pages, this travelogue has the usual Theroux touches - his relentless pursuit of places where no one else goes, discomfiting generalizations, references to great books about the places he's visiting and encounters with some memorable characters. For fans of Mr. Theroux' other travel writings, this one does not disappoint. Recommended. writings, this one does not disappoint. Recommended.
Having lived in the Pacific, I found Paul Theroux's impressions humorously accurate. He throws away all of the romantic myths about the islands. At times I found his writings somewhat mean-spirited and condescending, but overall "The Happy Isles of Oceania" was an entertaining read. "The Sex Lives of Cannibals" would be a good accompanient.
I really like Theroux's style and his view of culture(s). This book was interesting and I'm fascinated by the region, but it just went a bit too long. Not enough dramatic differences between island nations to keep me genuinely hooked.
This was my first time reading this author and in the beginning I was disappointed that he was blowing my fantasy of the South Pacific. After a few chapters I was enthralled with his perspective and enjoyed his writing and research style. The truth sometimes is as good as the fantasy, but different.
He sure doesn't put a good spin on New Zealanders or Australians but one can take some of his opinions with a grain of salt. I was glued to his descriptions and didn't skip any sentences or paragraphs like I usually do when I'm reading travelogues. Mosquito Coast is also a number one for good reads.
What a Shame! While I enjoyed Theroux's book "Riding the Iron Rooster" immensely, the present work is dyspeptic, cynical, and I suspect a bit off in his curmudgeonly views of just about all nationalities that he encounters. He does make some interesting observations, but too much of the book is about himself and not enough about the places he visits. Too bad, but I think that his older age is telling and I don't think I will read any more of the author's newer works.
This book was not what I was expecting. It was very wordy and boring, so didn't even finish it. I guess I was expecting a more Robinson Crusoe type book.
Why Cant It Be Freeeeeeee !
It takes time to appreciate Theroux's humour but he does have interesting insite towards the South Pacific culture. A bit of a snob, he is a unrelenting critic. I found the novel compelling but dark and moody much like his feelings towards Easter Island. He wanders in the end and the conclusion is much like his travels-unpredicatble and confusing. Don't bother reading his first works-arogant sexual conquests in Africa, but his jaunt across China is amusing.
I couldn't wait to receive this book and get started reading. As early as the first chapter, I was already disappointed. Mr. Theroux has a very negative point of view of so many people he meets, and of entire countries. I have read reviews of his other books, and apparently some other readers agree with me. I am lucky enough to have traveled extensively throughout Australia, Fiji, and French Polynesia, and I could not relate to any of his pretentious opinions of these places. Thankfully, I did not order any of his other books.