The Happy Isles of Oceania

The Happy Isles of Oceania

Paddling the Pacific

Book - 1992
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Baker & Taylor
The author of The Mosquito Coast recounts his journey to the islands of the Pacific, describing the people, landscape, and wildlife he encounters in New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Fiji. 100,000 first printing. $90,000 ad/promo.

Blackwell North Amer
Paul Theroux's journeys have taken readers to the ends of the earth and back again--across China in Riding the Iron Rooster, deep into the Americas in The Old Patagonian Express, through Europe and Asia in The Great Railway Bazaar. Now Theroux launches his most exotic and tantalizing adventure yet, as he kayaks the shimmering Pacific from island to island, exploring its surfy coasts and blue lagoons, and taking up residence to discover the secrets of these happy isles.
Theroux compares the vast Pacific to the universe: each island like a distant star, each archipelago like a galaxy. His travels begin in what he calls "Meganesia": the great islands of New Zealand, where he walks the mountain trails of the Fiordland wilderness; and Australia, where he hikes the red ranges around Alice Springs ("Oceania after someone has pulled the plug") and camps among crocodiles and wild pigs on an Aboriginal reserve. Then, traveling with his collapsible kayak, Theroux lives among the Trobriand Islanders of New Guinea, and discovers the truth about their fabled sexual lives. From there, via the megapode egg-diggers of the Solomon Islands and the cargo cults of Vanuatu, he proceeds to Melanesian Fiji and Polynesian Tonga, where he is granted an audience with King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV. After living a Robinson Crusoe fantasy on a desert island, Theroux continues under tropical skies to Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tahiti, the Marquesas, and the last points on the Polynesian triangle: Easter Island and the paradise of Hawaii.
A mesmerizing narrator--brilliant, witty, and keenly perceptive--Paul Theroux enters a Gauguin painting, sails in the wake of Captain Cook, recalls the bewitching tales of Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson, and we follow. 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.

& Taylor

The author recounts his journey to the islands of the Pacific, describing the people, landscape, and wildlife he encountered in New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Fiji

Publisher: New York : Putnam, c1992.
ISBN: 9780399137266
Branch Call Number: 919.504 THE
Characteristics: 528 p. ; 25 cm.


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Jul 20, 2015

What a wonderful read! Written in l991, this book is an adventure and a history of all the cultures of the Pacific islands. I felt like I was on vacation and was sad when it was over. It was so much better than going the tourist route.

Aug 13, 2013

I really enjoyed reading this before travelling to New Zealand. Though most of the book is not about that country, I learned so much more - about the people who occupy the many South Pacific Islands of Polynesia. Fascinating and enjoyable reading. The author's habit of pulling out his odd collapsible kayak in many of the out of the way places he visited was sure to attract the attention of locals including the kids.


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