Monday, May 7, 2012

Read Your Way Around the World - Micronesia

Read Your Way Around the World invites you to Micronesia. Coming from a Canadian perspective it is difficult to conceive of 600+ islands whose land mass is smaller than Prince Edward Island. Is this possible? Is World Book letting me down? Nope CIA Factbook confirms. And even more amazing is that Micronesia's coastline is 1/3 that of Canada's. Boggles my mind. Many, many tiny islands. Micronesian's seem to have had a largely oral literary tradition and I've not been able to find any readily available examples of Micronesian authors. For now we'll have to explore the islands of Micronesia through western eyes.

Ok, maybe this is not the best choice for someone interested in serious travel writing, however if you are looking for absurdity and belly laughs then Christopher Moore is your man. In The Island of the Sequined Love Nun (M), Tucker Case, disgraced pilot (his disgrace involves crashing a pink corporate cosmetics jet while performing unseemly acts) takes a job piloting for a medical missionary on a Micronesian island. Supernatural forces which include ghosts and a talking fruit bat, confound the mere mortals in this darkly funny and offbeat novel.

This is the tenth novel in the long-running Alex Delaware (M) series by Jonathan Kellerman. Delaware is a crime solving child psychologist. The Web (M) takes place on Aruk, a tiny Micronesian island. In what was supposed to be an exotic working vacation, Delaware and girlfriend Robin Castagna, find themselves immersed in a dark and deadly conspiracy. Dr. William Moreland spent the last thirty years of his life tending to the health and well-being of the island's inhabitants. Delaware comes to help him to organize his papers for his successor. The murder of a young woman reveals that this seeming paradise is hiding horrific secrets. A suspenseful and compelling read.

In The Island of the Colorblind (M), Oliver Sacks seeks out a community of people who are reportedly colourblind living on the islands of Pingelap and Phonpei. Their condition isolates them in that they are unable to learn to read, they are unable to work outdoors in the sunlight and have very low vision. They describe their world, rather than with colour, in terms of texture, tone and shadow. Sack's reflective, yet accessible book is not only a neurological investigation, but a fine example of travel writing, natural history and human migration.

Those of us in colder parts of the world tend to have a romanticized notion of life on a South Pacific island, perhaps from being overfed on a diet of Gilligan's Island back in The Day. J.Maarten Troost followed his wife to Kiribati intending to revel in paradise and write a literary masterpiece. What we have instead is The Sex Lives of Cannibals: adrift in the Equatorial Pacific (M) a hilarious example of travel writing. The island was crowded, polluted and so very hot. Over the course of two years they learned to live with erratic electricity, alarming critters, and infuriating government officials all while coming to love their new home.


  1. I love Christopher Moore, perhaps you could do something featuring just his wacky writing.

  2. as weird as this sounds I have read all of these books! weird You must have peeked at my bookshelf