J. Maarten Troost at RolfPotts.com

This month at RolfPotts.com, I interview J. Maarten Troost, author of the hilarious 2004 travel book The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific. Having recently read this book, I can say I appreciated the fact that Troost skewers the conventions of travel books from the opening pages:

“It’s the nature of books such as these –” he writes, “the travel, adventure, humor, memoir kind of book — to offer some reason, some driving force, an irreproachable motivation, for undertaking the odd journey. One reads, I had long been fascinated by the Red-Arsed Llama, presumed extinct since 1742, and I determined to find one; or I only feel alive when I am nearly dead, and so the challenge of climbing K2, alone, without oxygen, or gloves, and snowboarding down, at night, looked promising; or A long career (two and a half years) spent leveraging brands in the pursuit of optimal network solutions made me rich as Croesus, and yet I felt strangely uneasy, possibly because I now own 372 (hardworking) kids in Sri Lanka, which is why I decided to move to a quaint corner of Europe, where I would learn from the peasants and grow olive wine. And, typically, the writer emerges a little wiser, a little kinder, more spiritual, with a greater appreciation for the interconnectivity of all things.”

Thus, without a contrived motivation (but with sharp wit at hand), Troost goes on to paint an engaging portrait of his time on the Equatorial Pacific island of Kiribati, with a storytelling tone somewhere between that of Tony Horwitz (a pioneer of the humorous, “I am in this part of the world on my wife’s coattails” travel narrative) and Dave Barry.

In his interview, Troost encourages aspiring travel writers to compensate for their lack of income by moving to a cheaper part of the world. “On a pragmatic note,” he says, “given the brutal fiscal realities of freelancing, I think it’s always helpful to relocate yourself to some interesting — and cheap — corner of the world and write from there. From Laos, for instance, you would have all of Southeast Asia to write about at very low cost to you.”

Full Troost Q&A online here.

Posted by | Comments Off on J. Maarten Troost at RolfPotts.com  | May 11, 2005
Category: Travel News

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