by Lawrence Millman ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 1, 1998
In this light and enjoyable collection of previously published essays, the peripatetic Millman visits some of the more remote precincts on the planet and reports on encounters both exotic and bizarre. Since Millman (who writes for National Geographic and other magazines) likes to go where others haven't been or don't want to go, most of his writings here originate from far-flung islands. Thus, he describes the slow-paced life of Tonga islanders, with a copy of Maugham in hand explores the Bandan spice islands, tours ancient ruins and imbibes a potent brew with the natives in Micronesia, and is attacked by one of the island's ghosts in Western Samoa. Some of Millman's better episodes take place on lesser-known islands off North America, including the forest-clad, lightly populated Anticosti in the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, the Queen Charlotte Islands off British Columbia, and Honduras's English-speaking Bay Islands. Islands or not, some places from which Millman reports lie entirely off the tourist map. Abjuring seal eye, he dines on boiled walrus and seal brisket with Eskimos north of Hudson Bay; holds an incredibly unpronounceable conversation with the aid of an Inuit dictionary on a kayak stopover on the Labrador coast; and in the most memorable pieces accidentally invites himself to dinner at the home of an impoverished Ecuadoran. The eponymous adventure into the depths of the Ecuadoran Amazon, in company of an anthropologist and ethnobotanist, has Millman slogging through jungle, jumping away from snakes, being eaten by ants, and finally, at the camp of a medicine man, defending his circumcision. There are other quirky vignettes here such as a trip to the car-less isle of Sark and Millman's discovery, right on the Massachusetts coast, of the carcass of a rare giant squid. Taken together, this is rather a hodgepodge of experiences that don't quite fit together, but for the uncritical arm-chair traveler these essays are a nice way to spend an afternoon.
Pub Date: May 1, 1998
Page Count: 183
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998
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