Non-fiction: “The Sex Lives of Cannibals” by J. Maarten Troost

sex lives of cannibalsThis is one of those books I picked up back in February, after reading Tess of the d’Urbervilles created one of the worst cases of Book-ADHD I’ve ever experienced. After finishing Fluke, I wanted to knock this one off the list once and for all.

Not-so-fresh out of college, Maarten realizes that the life of a temp is not for him (there were very few promising careers for one who graduated with a degree in international politics). His girlfriend, Sylvia, who has slightly higher career aspirations, is offered a chance to be a developer for a third-world strip of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

…We were about to give notice to our landlord when Sylvia called me at work and asked if I would be inclined to move to a small atoll in the Equatorial Pacific and whether I would be able to do so in about three weeks’ time. She had been offered a position as country director for the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific-Kiribati Office. Five seconds later I quit my job. Then I called Sylvia back.


The first few chapters are about the history of Kiribati (pronounced Kiri-bas) and the island Sylvia and Maarten end up on, Tarawa, and they’re kind of slow going. I easily blame these chapters for why it has taken me just about five months to complete this book. Once Maarten starts talking about the island hijinks (for instance: the Great Beer Crisis, flying Air Kiribati), the humor takes off and it’s quite enjoyable. Even when he’s discussing the history of Kiribati, which involves a lot of gods all named Nauru, he is self-deprecating and sarcastic enough to keep me interested, but it’s not as funny or interesting as the events that directly affect Maarten.

He was not as funny as A.J. Jacobs in The Know It All, but there were a couple of chuckle-ey moments. However, if, like me, you decide to pick up the book based on the scintillating title, allow me to burst your bubble; unless the title refers to the cannibalistic dogs on the island, then there are no tales of the sex lives of any cannibals. Sorry.

Grade for The Sex Lives of Cannibals: 2 stars


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s