Following a stint in rehab, travel writer Troost (Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation or How He Became Comfortable Eating Live Squid, 2008, etc.) chronicles his journey toward finding his new sober self while following in the tracks of Robert Louis Stevenson.
For years, Troost lived the good life: “For a long while, decades even, the sun had shone on me. Life had been an effortless glide.” Then, suddenly, it wasn’t, and his wife dropped him at a rehab center along with an ultimatum to sober up or else. On the road to recovery, the author delved into the literature of the South Seas, particularly Stevenson’s Treasure Island. His curiosity reawakened following his newfound sobriety, Troost set out on his own adventure for some of the most remote islands on Earth, including the Marquesas, the Tuamotus, Tahiti, the Gilberts and Samoa. Whether detailing the boorish behavior of other travelers, the serenity/fright experienced when snorkeling with sharks, rising sea levels or his own inadequacies, Troost’s language rings true. The author candidly, humorously probes the nether regions of his addiction along with the temptations he encountered during his journey. “So now here I was,” he writes, “nearly twelve months sober, alone for the first time in a faraway place, on a boatful of booze.” Troost’s sly wit permeates the narrative, propelling his saga out of the ranks of many recovery memoirs. The author weaves together entertaining and illuminating pop-culture touchstones, history, and cultural, culinary and literary references with personal experiences while rambling across the South Seas.
A rambunctious, intimate trip well worth the armchair time.