At the first of last week, I flaked out on reading Maarten Troost’s Headhunters on My Doorstep. I read a couple of chapters (11 & 12) Monday. Then, Tuesday and Wednesday I flaked out. I spent most of my time looking at baseball statistics at baseball-reference.com. Headhunters was due back @ the library Friday, so I sped through it Thursday in order to get it back to the library.
The good news is that the final 100 pages or so in Headhunters is really good. In the book, Troost continues to follow Robert Louis Stevenson’s path through the Pacific – exploring the remote atoll of Fakarava, then leaving the Marquesas for Papeete, then he heads on Kiribati, and he ends in Samoa, where Stevenson died.
Headhunters “takes off” when Troost goes to Fakarava. Once there, he gets bitten by a dog while jogging and goes snorkeling with dozens of sharks. I know that it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s the best sort of travel writing in that you feel that Troost is taking you to the very edge of the world.
The first Troost book that I had read was The Sex Lives of Cannibals, which is about his years living in Kiribati. Sex Lives is a great book and I recommend it to anyone. When Troost returns to Kiribati, he finds that he is somewhat notorious due to Sex Lives’ unflattering portrait of Kiribati. Again, this is strong writing. Troost contends that Kiribati – a low-lying atoll – is becoming uninhabitable as oceans continue rising due to global warming. He notes that many places that were inhabitable a few years ago are now flooding. It’s great food for thought.
The Samoa material at the end of the book isn’t quite as strong, but Troost does pull the book together with a nice close. He relates his journey through the South Pacific to his journey as a recovering alcoholic. Though uneven, Headhunters is still good and I recommend it – after you read The Sex Lives of Cannibals. I’d give Headhunters 7/10.