The Happy Isles of Oceania

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Paul Theroux is an accomplished novelist and one of the most acclaimed travel writers of this century. He has written numerous dazzling accounts of dangerous and desolate regions of the world. THE HAPPY ISLES OF OCEANIA ranks as one of his most memorable travel books. During this ambitious journey, Theroux visited fifty-one islands. Some of the intriguing locales he spent time exploring were New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Easter Island, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, and Hawaii. Theroux began this particular journey after his marriage had failed and with the prospect of being diagnosed as having cancer. Although his mood for the first leg of the trip was obviously affected by these problems, Theroux soon takes heart in pointing out the absurdities of life in the far reaches of the Pacific. He used a collapsible kayak to make his way among an island group. This allowed him to come face-to-face with the creatures and the natives. His life was in danger on more than one occasion. If Theroux had not already acquired the experience of a skilled traveler, he probably would have not survived to publish this tale.

Theroux is a gripping storyteller, and he does not shy away from taking issue with some previous illustrious predecessors, including James Michener and Thor Heyerdahl. The Pacific islands become more than mythical locations of breathtaking beauty. Although there remains abundant beauty, Theroux describes how the islands of paradise have become scarred by war, pollution, and commercial exploitation. THE HAPPY ISLES OF OCEANIA is a wonderful, eye-opening read for all travel lovers. Theroux provides more than enough exciting anecdotes to make even the most worldly-wise gasp.