Saturday, January 05, 2008

Getting Stoned with Savages by J. Maarten Troost

Getting Stoned with Savages by J. Maarten Troost
Copyright 2006
Broadway Books (travel memoir)

235 pages

What led you to pick up this book? I enjoyed Troost's first book, The Sex Lives of Cannibals.

Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. Not a plot, since it's nonfiction, but the book tells about how the author grew tired of actually having to work for a living and urged his wife to return to the South Pacific. Getting Stoned with Savages tells about their time living in Vanuatu and Fiji and their choice to begin a family while living in their new island home(s).

What did you like most about the book? I like the author's light-hearted style, although this book contained more dreary history and political exposition than the first and that made it drag a bit.

What did you think of the characters? I thought they were fascinating. I don't necessarily understand the author or his wife and was rather baffled by his choice to leave a job where he was apparently making piles (pretty much because he didn't want to work - addendum: I forgot he was, in fact, fired - this shows you how messed-up I am) or their decision to start a family in a Third-World Nation. But, then Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had a baby in Africa, of all places, so there's a lot I don't get. I always find that he makes his neighbors and friends sound like people I'd like to at least observe . . . invisibly.

Share a favorite scene from the book: I liked the description of their visit to an active volcano. What the guide said and how they ended up leaving were both pretty funny.

In general: Not as good as his first, but I still like his style and got enough enjoyment out of the book that I'll end up buying his third - probably in 2009 or 2010, because of the book diet thing, assuming things go well. It took three attempts before I managed to get a copy of this book; the first two were both lost in the mail.

3.5/5 - Good enough not to give up on the author, so I'll call it "above average" but the next book is the acid test, so to speak. He'd better be a little more entertaining or it's back to the bank for him. Hahaha. I say that, but he's probably already back to making piles of money. Some people get all the breaks.

Now attempting to read, but I can't seem to focus for long: Crazy Aunt Purl's Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair. That's my January purchase because I needed something way light. Don't blame the author if I can't get into it. I just can't concentrate, these days. Another addendum: You should probably take that into account when looking at my ratings. "Bookfool is whacked up," you should say to yourself, "and I will therefore give authors a chance, even if she says a book put her to sleep. She's kind of sleepy all the time. I get that."

Sorry so short. I'm also attending online Traffic School in order to keep that stupid speeding ticket off my record. It's actually kind of fun, but I have to hurry up and finish it before heading back to Oklahoma City. Update: I passed my final with a score of 100%!

And, another update: Andi's review of Getting Stoned, etc. is soooo much better than mine. Please go read it and then feel free to sit around in awe of her gigantic brain and awesome writing skill. I know I am. Thanks to Les for reminding me that Andi read the book last year.

Have a peachy day!


  1. Traffic ticket? They certainly can ruin your day, can't they?

    Have you read any Stephanie Plum stories? If you're looking for funny, they're a good choice.

    My thoughts are with you, Nancy. Wish there was more I could do to help.


  2. I haven't read The Sex Lives of Cannibals yet! Must get around to that one before trying Getting Stoned with Savages. How odd that two copies ended up lost in the mail; I might have taken that as an omen.

    Eager to hear what you think about Crazy Aunt Purl's book...if it ever gains your attention sufficiently. Must say that you have enough on your plate right now to distract you!

  3. Sounds like a great read. I almost picked these up when I was at the book store, but I need to watch my weight for the flight home. So...

    But I did pick up The Secret Lives of People in Love. I can't wait.

  4. Hey CJ,

    Yeah, I got a speeding ticket on my first trip to Oklahoma. I was deliberately distracting myself - my mom was in critical care with fluid in her lung and I just didn't want to think about it, so I plugged in Carrie Underwood and was having *such* fun. Plus, I thought the speed limit was 65. Oopsy. I was going 72 in a 55. I just finished traffic school and got 100% on my final. Wahoo!

    Oh, yes, I love the Stephanie Plum books. I think I stopped at #9. They're always uppers. I noticed there's a lending library in the hospital, so I'll have to check that out.

    You're helping, just by being you. :)

  5. Jenclair,

    I might have to go back and reword my review a little more strongly. There were bits and pieces of Getting Stoned with Savages that I liked, but it was kind of lame by comparison with The Sex Lives of Cannibals. Definitely read the first one.

    You can tell I was pretty determined to get my mitts on Getting Stoned. It was a friend in a book group who saved me and got a copy in my hands.

    I'm on page 100 of Crazy Aunt Purl, etc. It's pretty good - sort of sad because she's relating the time after her husband left, so far, but she's got a wacky sense of humor and I appreciate her Southernness. I stayed in bed to read, this morning, and wouldn't you know someone knocked and rang the doorbell. I was still in my PJs.
    Yikes. I'm almost feeling like a normal human, so naturally I'm heading back to the hospital to give myself stress hives, tomorrow. We'll see what happens to the reading. :)


    Excellent choice!!!! The Secret Lives of People in Love is slim and such a lovely read! Now, if I were to advise you, I'd say get The Sex Lives of Cannibals and skip Getting Stoned with Savages, at some point. But, then I don't entirely regret reading the latter, so just ignore me and enjoy TSLoPiL. I hope you love Simon's book!! I think it's a wonder.

  6. The title of your new read made me laugh. Sounds like my family. :)

  7. 72 in a 55? Yeah, that's a wee bit fast. Most cops will give you between 5 and 10 over (my brother-in-law, the state trooper gives 15).

    Having taken care of my mom from 1989 to 2004, I know just how draining what you're doing can be. I wish I could wave a magic wand and give you the strength and rest you need. Barring that, I'm sending good thoughts and plenty of prayers your way.

    Oh, and congrats on acing that test!


  8. Kookie,

    Thanks for the laugh. I just like the idea of the first bit, getting stoned. It's really kind of sucky when you're going through a rough patch and you don't even drink wine. I'm sure that stuff he drank with the "savages" (the locals) would put me under the table on the first sip, but it still sounds like a plan.

  9. Online Traffic School?! Who'd a thunk it! Don't tell my child! ;)

    Nice review. I'll give the first a try, but might skip this one since you and Andi weren't as impressed with it.

    Take care!

  10. CJ,

    70 mph is the speed limit between Vicksburg and Jackson and I hadn't been on a highway with any other speed limit for over a year, so I'm sure that was part of it - I just fell into my natural groove. I'm not ever in a hurry, so I go the speed limit or go with the flow if it seems like the safest option. I breeze by highway patrolmen all the time, knowing I'm just fine because I stick close to the limit. Anyway, it was my own fault and I'm fine with it. I had fun doing the online traffic thing.

    Oh, wow, you took care of your mother for a long time! Yeah, it's draining, all right. I keep telling myself, "Get up and cook a decent meal while you're in a house with a kitchen," and it's not working. I just want to sleep, read, watch TV and shop. I've eaten leftover pizza all weekend. Oh, well. Whatever helps. I plan to head back tomorrow.

    Thanks! I was really happy about that 100% on my traffic school final. I'm such a nerd!!


    Yep, online traffic school. It was actually kind of fun. I finished, this morning. Yay! Didn't want to have to worry about that in the hotel - I'll be staying somewhere with hinky internet service, unfortunately. I know this from experience.

    I think Getting Stoned is just so-so and you won't miss anything wonderful by skipping it. Hmm, forgot Andi reviewed it. I'll have to go back and see what she said. I'm seeing the word "lame" a lot.

  11. Anonymous10:52 PM

    Dreary history?

    You know that Crazy Aunt Purl has a knit website right? And some very lovely and charming cats.

  12. Nancy -

    It was a long, exhausting time but I don't regret a minute of it. It was the hardest and best thing I've ever done.

    Just remember to take care of yourself. That includes taking time for yourself, without feeling guilty about it. You won't be able to be there for all the people who are depending on you if you don't.

    And if you ever feel like you need to vent, fire off an email to me. It'll do wonders for you.


  13. I am just SO into the idea of traffic school! Do you pass notes and chew gum in class? Do you talk out of turn? I have posted about the anatomy of a novel so if you really get bored...LOL

  14. Congrats on finishing your traffic final with a 100! Very good.

    I'm glad you liked this newest offering from Troost, even if not as much as the first. I read the books a longgg way apart (years), and I think that helped. If I'd read them closer together I definitely think I would've favored The Sex Lives of Cannibals.

  15. Carrie,

    I like history, but it has to be told just so or I get sleepy. And, you know, I'm sleepy anyway, so I need caffeinated history, right now.

    Yep, I've been to Crazy Aunt Purl's blog. I laughed and cried my eyes out - I was directed there when her cat died and I sobbed over that post but at the same time she had me snickering. I resolved that I was going to buy her book, at that time. It's been on my wish list for a while; I don't think the book had been released, at that point.


    Rather like parenting, then - difficult but worthwhile and you have to get away, now and then, or you'll go off the deep end (in our case: Thank God for school). Yeah, I think I've learned that lesson, already. I was exhausted when I headed to my mother's house - and I hated to leave her alone even knowing my sister was on her way. But, I feel so much better. Sometimes you just need a few days to recover, I guess.

    I've been venting all over poor Kookie and Carrie. Feel free to write me at bookfoolery at yahoo dot com. That's the email I'm using, right now, and I'd love to hear from you. I'm sure you'd get an earful, now and then, but this weekend was good. My mother is improving every day. :)

  16. Pat,

    Here's where the nerd thing comes in. I was quietly studious. Of course, there's nobody here to pass notes to (not even a cat - my mother's cat died, last year), no gum in the house and very few excuses for diversion (although I did watch some movies on TV and talked on the cell phone a lot - does that count?).

    I'm pretty much never bored, but I love your blog entries. I'll drop by when I can. I'm packing. It should be an Olympic sport; I'm getting pretty speedy at this packing thing.


    I always loved those big red 100's with smiley-faces. Nerds unite!

    Yeah, a little more distance between the two books (and having an attention span greater than that of a flea) would have probably helped. The Sex Lives of Cannibals is still with me. I still think about going on a fish diet, now and then, for example. Really, I enjoy his writing style - he's such a goof - and I hope the next one has more of the fun scenes. A guy who can make tackling a centipede funny is okay by me.

  17. "Bookfool is whacked up," you should say to yourself, "and I will therefore give authors a chance, even if she says a book put her to sleep. She's kind of sleepy all the time. I get that."

    Sorry if this gets double posted--my blogger acct is being finicky today. Anyway, when I was reflecting on the year I thought about doing "hindsight" ratings because my feelings OFTEN change after I've read the book and ruminated over it for a while. Sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. I've even though of throwing ratings out the window because I'm not sure how accurate they really are right after I finish reading a book--but for some reason I feel compelled to rate a book.

    And why is it that some people get all the breaks?? :)

  18. Trish,

    Your message only came through once, no repeats. :)

    I've thought about throwing out ratings, also - partly because I often reevaluate my reads, later, and have realized that whether a book will stick with you or not isn't something you can really predict just after closing the book. But, I posted about the idea of dropping my ratings and there was a bit of a hue and cry. Some people thought it was a great idea, but the vast majority said they weigh the ratings based on what they know of a blogger's taste - which is something I do myself, so it made sense to me. Still . . . it's a tricky thing. The book I finished last night was completely different from Getting Stoned with Savages and I was considering giving it the same rating. But, that seemed somehow wrong (so I'm procrastinating - actually, I also just got back to having an internet connection).

    I can't answer that question!!! That's like . . . uh, 42? Why do some people have all the luck? What's the meaning of life? Gah. I'm old enough to know how little I know. LOL

  19. Old enough to know how little you know? It wouldn't be fair for me to make that statement--yet, but with each college course I took, it seemed that my knowledge base was getting smaller and smaller because I was realizing just how much more there was not know. I think that is partly why I'm just a voracious reader.

    On another note, my thoughts go out to you and your family. We are going through something similar with my grandfather. Its hard to see some of these things happen to those you love.

  20. Trish,

    The older I get, the less I realize I know (and understand about life). Yep, that's one of many reasons I read as much as possible - because I know how small my knowledge base is, in spite of how much I try to expand it.

    I'm sorry you're going through similar with your grandfather. My father's death was quick and horrifying, but I still believe that kind of death is easier than a slow death, in the long run, for everyone. Hugs to you.

  21. I keep meaning to read the first one and this one but for some reason I have a mental block about them! I jsut can't figure out why, they should be right up my alley.

  22. Heather,

    I get that, sometimes. If I'm determined enough, I'll just keep reading the first page until a book I'm sure I'll love "takes". There's probably no hurry; it'll wait for you. :)


Thank you for visiting my blog! I use comment moderation because apparently my blog is a spam magnet. Don't worry. If you're not a robot, your comment will eventually show up and I will respond, with a few exceptions. If a comment smacks of advertising, contains a dubious link or is offensive, it will be deleted. I love to hear from real people! I'm a really chatty gal and I love your comments!