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The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the…
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The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific (original 1992; edition 2006)

by Paul Theroux (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1741710,963 (3.71)34
Account of the travels of an internationally acclaimed, award-winning author among the islands of the Pacific, including New Zealand and Australia. Gives detailed descriptions of the people and places he encountered and his reactions to his new surroundings. Includes maps. The book proved controversial in New Zealand, where some readers reacted against portraits of people Theroux encountered there. His other books include TThe Mosquito Coast' and TRiding the Iron Rooster'.… (more)
Member:dharding
Title:The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific
Authors:Paul Theroux (Author)
Info:Mariner Books (2006), Edition: 1, 528 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:2019

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The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific by Paul Theroux (1992)

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» See also 34 mentions

English (14)  Dutch (2)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Theroux takes planes, ferries, helicopters, and his kayak around fifty-odd Pacific islands. As usual, he's critical of all he sees, occasionally hypocritical, observant but prone to overgeneralization, often unhappy. But, he experiences a lot, he gets into conversation with a lot of people without taking advantage of them, he's funny. I think what distinguishes this from the previous Theroux I read, "Dark Star Safari," is that Theroux overall very much enjoys his travels through the Pacific, and doesn't want them to end. The final set piece, of a total eclipse in Hawaii, is a little awkward, but still a cute ending.

> Paddling along, the sound of the paddle or the slosh of the boat would startle the fish, and they would leap from the water and skim across the waves, shimmying upright, balancing on their tails – more than one, often eight or ten fish dancing across my bow as I paddled towards a happy island.

> “If someone, say your mother, gets bad sick, you feed your pig a lot of food. Get him fat.” “Because you might need him for your mother’s funeral?” “Right.” I could just imagine a sick Tongan’s sense of doom when he or she looked out the hut window and saw the family pig fattened. “Also your horse.” “To be in the funeral procession?” “Not the procession but the feast. We eat the horses.”

> Even with my stinging arm in this choppy sea, I would rather be here among the cathedral-like contours of the cliffs on this high island than seeing its architectural equivalent in Europe – and I knew that the next time I saw Westminster Abbey or Notre-Dame I would be instantly reminded of the soaring Na Pali coast and miss it terribly. ( )
  breic | Aug 23, 2019 |
Paul's voyage and writing meandered around the Pacific, not telling much of a story. ( )
  addunn3 | Aug 7, 2017 |
Reading this book saved me a lot of time and money as the further I read, the more I knew that the "happy isles" of Oceania were not for me. Paul Theroux has become my trusted travel advisor. ( )
  pbjwelch | Jul 25, 2017 |
This travel book find Theroux paddling around islands in the Pacific. It is very well written and I enjoyed it immensely at first but then did find it just too long. ( )
  Tifi | Aug 9, 2015 |
Theroux is his usual slightly cranky/hostile self. However, it is a very interesting read. ( )
  Nero56 | Apr 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
A sense of being beyond the reach of civilization comes when, in his intrepid kayak, off Easter Island and between the rock-battering surf and the Pacific, Theroux removes his headphones, ``hears the immense roar of waves and the screaming wind,'' and is terrified. A vast and contemplative book, seeing the ``Pacific as a universe, and the islands like stars in all that space.'' Informative not only for the voyager, but also for those wanting a new perspective on the Western continents of home. (Sorely lacking a map.)
added by John_Vaughan | editKirkus (Jul 21, 1992)
 
The grand tour of Oceania ends with Mr. Theroux describing travel writing as "a horrid preoccupation that I practiced only with my left hand." He then proceeds to make the claim that "I was not sure what I did for a living or who I was, but I was absolutely sure I was not a travel writer." "The Happy Isles of Oceania," with its studiously cynical vision of paradise lost, should make excellent reading for those people who don't want to travel or don't like to travel. It will reassure them that it is best to stay at home and not think too much about how else they might lead their lives. Paul Theroux has long since mastered the craft of writing, but, after finishing this book, I found myself wondering if he will ever master the fine art of travel.
added by John_Vaughan | editNY Times, Eric Hansen (Jul 19, 1992)
 
One journalist has cast doubt on Theroux’s account of his dinner with Dame Cath because he had neither tape recorder nor notebook at hand. However, speaking as one of his victims, I have news on that score. I ran into Paul Theroux in Port Moresby in 1991 and spent a few hours with him in shops looking at carvings, which I was there researching at the time. We chatted for over an hour, said our good-byes, and I thought no more of it.

What an bracing little shock then to find myself in this book. I have a different name and the place of our encounter has been changed, but Theroux has managed to record with uncanny accuracy what I told him. I imagine he holds conversations long enough in his memory to write them down as soon as he is alone. My page in The Happy Isles leaves me both astonished and mildly embarrassed. Did I say that those villagers on one occasion I recounted to him “almost shat in their pants”? Well, uh, I did. People who loose their tongues in the presence of writers have no right to complain.

added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Press, Denis Dutton
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paul Therouxprimary authorall editionscalculated
Davids, TinkeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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God bless the thoughtful islands
Where warrants never come;
God bless the just Republics
That give a man a home...

Rudyard Kipling, The Broken Men
Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles...

Tennyson, Ulysses
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Voor Mee Ling Loo en Sheila Donnelly
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Er was in de Engelse taal geen goed woord voor dit hopeloze afscheid.
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