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Headhunters on my doorstep: A True Treasure Island ghost story

A travel and addiction recovery memoir by J. Maarten Troost

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Expunging the ghosts of his own addiction

  • Jan 5, 2014
Troost has made a living (fragile as it may be based on his funny "hypothetical" aside about the writing/publishing process) writing short wry accounts of his overseas sojourns.  While classified as "travel memoirs" in his author bio here, they are more personal and more rooted than the typical tourist's account--he spent months living on Kiribati with his UN employee girlfriend for The Sex Lives of Cannibals, his first book.

In Headhunters he takes a further step along the continuum away from the standard travel memoir.  While he does journey through the South Pacific, including a return visit to Kiribati, to write about his attempt to retrace the route of Robert Louis Stevenson's journeys a century earlier, he spends more time writing about his experiences as a recovering alcoholic.  While Troost  employs his usual comic smart-aleck style, here it adds depth and poignancy to the very serious topics of addiction and recovery that he is still facing head on (he passed his one year anniversary clean and sober during the journey) and refuses to duck or minimize.  The humor highlights instead of diminishing the seriousness of the subject.

As I wrote in my review of one of his earlier accounts. Troost's strength is as an observer of the cultural and social divides and denominators that bring us together and tear us apart.  Here the divides are between non drinkers and the drinking cultures they must negotiate through, and between American and European tourist attitudes toward the cultures, economies, histories, and activities in the countries they were visiting.

If you want a travel memoir of a South Pacific vacation, you might be disappointed.  If you enjoy a wry dry with a well-aged bouquet , you might want to order this round.

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Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #36
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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