About Me

My photo
Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Drawn from Paradise by David Attenborough and Errol Fuller

Drawn from Paradise (Harper Collins, 2012)
It was a delight to read this coffee-table book about the European discovery, art and natural history of the birds of paradise. The illustrations are works from artists over the centuries dating back to lithographs from the 17th Century. Birds of Paradise reached Europe long before Europeans explored the island of New Guinea. Plumes and skins were traded along what was once known as the spice route and found their way to the royal houses of Europe. As the hunters took the feet and wings off the birds before they were traded, Europeans of the time assumed that birds of paradise floated in the air and never roosted.
   This book shows the development of our knowledge of birds of paradise over the centuries and the way in which they were named by taxonomists.
   For those of us who adore these birds, this book is a 'must have' as it shows their important place in history and indeed, in European art.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pacific Poets # 4 Dan Taulapapa McMullin

Dan Taulapapa McMullin

Dan Taulapapa McMullin lives in California but his heritage is Samoan. Dan was born in American Samoa and identifies himself as part of the Fa'a Fafine culture. He is a poet, artist and film maker. He has recently published a selection of poems in a book entitled Coconut Milk. The poems are critical of the relationship Pacific cultures have with Western cultures. The poem 'Tiki Manifesto' is a good example of how Taulapapa views the tourist industry. Many of his poems also give voice to the experience of being Fa'a Fafine and how prejudice haunted much of his formative years.
Coconut Milk
(University of Arizona Press, 2013)
   Taulapapa has an honest, raw and uncompromising style.The poems are written in blank verse and many follow a narrative style. Some of them are funny; some are confronting. Snippets of Samoan language and idiom permeate his work.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mr Pip... the movie

Radio National have a great interview with Lloyd Jones on the release of the movie adaptation of his book, Mr Pip.  Also on the same program is an interview about the Haus Stori (story house) that Lloyd Jones has helped to set up in Bougainville. Inspirational stuff.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pitcairn Paradise Lost by Kathy Marks

Pitcairn Island is where Fletcher Christian, his fellow mutineers and a dozen Tahitian women settled after the mutiny on the Bounty. These days it is populated with around 50 people, many of them direct descendants of these historical characters. But casting aside the myth and romance of it's turbulent beginnings, this remote island has a sinister side. In 2000 police went to this British colony to investigate disturbing reports of rape. What they discovered were multiple accounts of widespread child abuse dating back generations. It seemed that few girls had escaped the abuse and many men, some of them community leaders, were among the accused. As virtually everyone on Pitcairn is related to one another, the tangle of abuse also involved incest.
Pitcairn Paradise Lost
 (Fourth Estate, 2008)
This book details the trials held on Pitcairn and New Zealand which tore the small community apart. Several men were finally convicted but many were acquitted or failed to come to trial when victims were pressured by family members not to testify.
   I found this book harrowing and profoundly disturbing. Marks was one of only six journalists to gain access to the island for the trials. Her account is written plainly, which makes the victims' accounts all the more stark. It also shows the vitriolic attacks of the community against her reporting.  In the last few chapters she comments on the fragility of societies and how easily humanity can degenerate into anarchy, where the vulnerable suffer and strong men prosper.
   On a lighter note, the island sounds beautiful and rugged. I can only hope that its future will be brighter and that the influx of outsiders and better infrastructure will propel it into the modern age where children's rights are respected.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Beyond the Coral Sea by Michael Moran

Beyond the Coral Sea
(Harper Collins, 2003)
I borrowed this book from the library and unfortunately it's taken me about a month to read. That's not because it's a crappy read, it's actually engrossing, and packed with dozens of interesting historical accounts. It is a weighty tome though, and the way it flits between a modern travelogue and a recount of the last few hundred years of the history of Papua New Guinea makes it difficult to follow at times. But I loved it. I want a copy of my own now.
   The complete title is Beyond the Coral Sea: Travels in the Old Empires of the South-West Pacific. There is so much to this book: the business empires of 'Queen Emma', the failed Utopian settlement of Port Breton, the fascinating accounts of flying witches, the volcanic devastation of Rabaul, the splendour of the Trobriand Islands, the trading kastam of kula... I could go on and on.
   I learnt a lot about meddling colonial Europeans and their enduring legacies. The author's love of the area shone through and I will gladly read this book again and again as a handy historical reference.
   Now I'll have to save up to visit these eastern islands of PNG. They sound remarkable!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Jack's Island by Norman Jorgensen

Jack's Island (2008,
Fremantle Press)
This book takes the reader back in history to World War II. The protagonist, Jack, lives with his family on Rottnest Island off the coast of Western Australia. The novel is really a loosely connected collection of anecdotes and stories about Jack and his friends. One adventure after another build to form a cohesive narrative that is both engaging and insightful. Jorgensen has shown the 'rough and tumble' ways of childhood that would seem outrageously dangerous nowadays to modern parents.
   The author has a gentle, easy-going style but doesn't shy away from issues of prejudice and snobbery. I enjoyed this book as a lighthearted record of life during the war years. It's suitable for 8-12 year olds, and those interested in history.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Island of the Colour-blind by Oliver Sacks

The Island of the Colour-blind
 (Picador, 1996)
Oliver Sacks is a neurologist and author who writes about the most peculiar and intriguing neurological conditions. A few years ago I read the autobiographical account of his childhood, Uncle Tungsten, and was thoroughly engrossed by his insatiable curiosity and his passion for science. The Island of the Colour-blind is an account of his travels in the Federated States of Micronesia (one of my favourite places in the Pacific). The book is set out in two parts. The first deals with the issue of colour-blindness. Apparently on Pingelap, an outlying islands of Pohnpei there is an unusually high number of people who see no colour at all, a condition known as achromotopia. Sacks travelled to Pingelap with two colleagues, one of whom was achromatopic, and together they recorded the incidence of the disorder and gave out sunglasses and other visual aids. People with this condition find direct sunlight blinding. They squint and find it difficult to see small details. They have excellent night vision, however.
   The second half of this book was to do with a rare neurological disorder, called lytico-bodig, that occurs on Guam, an island which is part of the Marianas Islands. The disease causes Parkinsonism type symptoms in some families and motor neurone disease in others. No one knows the exact cause of the condition although some researchers speculate it could be to do with the islanders eating the seeds of the cycad plants which are endemic to the island. The seeds are toxic and need to be specially prepared before they are eaten. However, other researchers have disputed this hypothesis and think there may be a viral cause. Although no conclusions were reached the book examines all the theories and gives detailed accounts of the disease in many patients.
   This book is fascinating reading for science students. Sacks manages to keep the medical jargon to a minimum and there are dozens of footnotes and references to his readings in this field. This book would be ideal to include as a non-fiction title for the PSSC English curriculum.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Many years ago I read the classic horror tale by H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau. Full of monsters made from animal experiments, the story is gruesome, Gothic and grotesque. Megan Shepherd's novel, The Madman's Daughter, is a terrific piece of fan fiction that gives this old tale a fresh platform. It is the story of sixteen year old Juliet Moreau, the only child of the eccentric but brilliant surgeon, Doctor Moreau. Her father fled London six years earlier after rumours of his barbaric methods began to circulate. With her mother now dead, Juliet is determined to search for her father. She travels by ship to her father's island and along the way rekindles a friendship with her father's young servant, now grown into a handsome young man named Montgomery. The ship takes on a castaway, a brooding gentleman called Edward who reveals little about his past.
The Madman's Daughter
(HarperVoyager, 2013).
   Once on the island Juliet receives a tepid-reception but the mad doctor tries to murder the stranger, Edward. Montgomery rescues him but the two young men become rivals over Juliet's attention. As the weeks go by, Juliet finds herself embroiled in the horror of her father's experiments and she resolves to escape the island. And somewhere lurking in the jungle, a beast has begun to kill the villagers and threatens to attack the doctor's compound.
   Shepherd's prose was serviceable but repetitious, and littered with misplaced modifiers and cliches, suggesting some further line editing was needed. I found this novel a bit slow at the beginning and Juliet's character was difficult to empathise with in a Victorian London setting. However her feisty temperament fits in well with the predicament she finds herself in on the isolated Pacific island. Still, my desire to read on to when they reached the island kept me reading. As soon as Doctor Moreau was revealed on the page, the story took off. The plotting was tremendous, with intricate twists and some nasty surprises in the final few pages.
A cracker of a story for those who like a touch of the supernatural.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Robert Louis Stevenson: His Best Pacific Writings, compiled by Roger Robinson

Robert Louis Stevenson: His Best Pacific Writings
(UQP, 2004)
This anthology is interesting because it documents customs, characters and politics of many Pacific Islands from a historical perspective.  I always thought he'd only visited Tahiti and then settled in Samoa, but he also spent time in the Marquesas, Kiribati and New Caledonia, and spent countless weeks rolling around on boats between islands. This anthology contains Stevenson's essays, poems and short stories all about the Pacific Islands. Much of his essays are densely written and a little hard to follow, due to the old fashioned style of prose. I found the 'Battle on the Beach' and 'The Hurricane' particularly difficult to fathom but his short stories are delightful. There are prayers and poems at the end which are also moving. His essays about the leper colony and secondly his Gilbertese friends were fascinating. This book gives great insight into the character of Stevenson. He a great listener and loved to mix with islanders and learn from their oral traditions.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Mountain by Drusilla Modjeska

The Mountain
(Vintage Books, 2012) 
It's taken me over a week to read this book, which is partly due to the dense content held in 400 plus pages and partly due to my study commitments. When I put it down this morning I was emotionally exhausted. The book deals with expatriate and islander relationships, Pacific art, politics, spiritual beliefs and environmentalism. Set in Papua New Guinea prior to independence it captures the idealism and vibrancy of young intellectuals keen to shake off the shackles of colonialism. At its base is a love story between Dutch photographer Rika and young political activist Aaron, a saltwater man from the Collingwood Bay area. Rika's desire to have a child with Aaron fuels much of the misunderstandings between the two cultures. Simmering in the background is the ever-present threat of sorcery.
   I enjoyed this book despite the fact that it was too long. The pace slowed in the middle.
   The second half of the book is set thirty years later, in contemporary times. It follows the story of Jericho, the hapkas boy who was born on the mountain and later grew up in London with Rika's ex-husband, his natural father.
   Both perspectives were interesting and sensitively handled, but I can't help feeling it could have been chopped back somewhat. If you can cope with long, complicated story lines you may enjoy this one.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pacific Island Style by Glenn Jowitt and Peter Shaw

I quite like watching the ABC program Grand Designs. It shows people with far too much money constructing impressive, innovative and sometimes beautiful (and sometimes rather ugly) homes in Britain. When I lived in the Solomons there were many beautiful buildings that i was priveledged to visit, many of them traditional. Pacific Island Style is a coffee book title that showcases traditional housing forms throughout the Pacific. There are chapters dedicated to different Island groups including the Solomon Islands. I was delighted to find a picture on page 47 of the St Martins Training Centre church in Guadalcanal, showing the intricate woven cane patterns in the church walling. Wow! I remember that place at Tenaru. I went to a couple of services there and my husband was a regular, being a student at the training centre.
Pacific Island Style (Lothian, 1999)
   This book is lovely to browse through. The photographs are mostly of buildings, but the people and their arts and crafts are also depicted. It has sparked my interest to visit the Cook Islands one day. I want to buy a tivaevae!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Taming frigate birds

Frigate bird stand, Meneng. Source: J. Temaki, 2013
When I lived in Nauru there were a few wooden stands by the beach which always had frigate birds perched on them. More frigate birds flew overhead or nearby above the ocean. Nauruan culture has a strong relationship with these birds of the sea. Nauruans tame the birds and tether them to the frame to attract more birds. My friend John Temaki has kindly allowed me to publish these pictures of tame frigate birds in Nauru. Thanks John!
Feeding frigate birds, Meneng. Source: J. Temaki, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ireland's Islands by Peter Somerville-Large

This coffee table book has some stunning pictures of wild-looking windswept rocky isles off the coast of Ireland. It was an entertaining read and I learnt about the pirate Grace O'Malley who used to have hide-outs on some of these islands. The book is divided into a few pages per island, giving a short history and even some geological information.
Ireland's Islands (Salamander Books, 2000)
   Some of the islands are still inhabited and a handful are home to speakers of the native tongue, long stamped out on the mainland. If you enjoy the BBC series Coast, then you'll find this an enjoyable read. The photographs are by David Lyons.
   (I found this copy in the library so please excuse the library sticker.)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Devil-Devil by G.W.Kent

In the tradition of Ann Kengalu's Murder on the Mataniko Bridge comes another crime story set in the Solomon Islands. Devil-Devil is a complicated story of custom killings, smuggling and power-struggles set mostly on the island of Malaita.
   The author, G.W. Kent, spent eight years in the Solomons working in education and broadcasting. It is obvious that he has a thorough understanding of Malaitan customs, particularly in the north of the island although this knowledge doesn't cover all of the archipelago. (His reference to sorting out a dispute in Isabel using bride price is a case in point). I was also a little bemused about how the detective could walk from north Malaita, straight through to Kwaio land without coming across other language groups such as the Kwa'rae.
Devil-Devil (Constable and
Robinson, 2011).
   Despite these shortcomings the plot keeps readers wondering how all these murders and the disappearance of an American could be related. There is plenty of action and tension and some violent scenes, but nothing too graphic.
   The story is set in 1960, fifteen years after WW2 and almost as many years to come till independence. Kent does his best to show the islanders' disdain for their colonial masters. The main detective Ben Kella is a Lau man and the only indigenous policeman to reach the rank of sergeant. He is an aofia, a custom man highly respected in his community. However he is considered by other islanders as a 'white blackfella', too educated to be a true islander, and too traditional to be accepted by the expats.
   Kent has managed to capture the curious intertwining of faith that is common in the Solomons. Not only does Ben Kella straddle both worlds of spiritual tradition, but the other protagonist, the plucky Catholic nun, also accepts the presence of the pagan spirit world.
   The familiar landmarks of the G. Club, Point Cruz wharf, Chinatown and the Fishing Village are all described well to those who know Honiara.
   I enjoyed reading this although the quality of the writing is below average. Adverbs a-plenty pepper each page and make many sentences unwieldy, slowing the pace. If you enjoy a good crime plot however, and can overlook the flowery prose then you will enjoy Devil-Devil.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I love this picture of a Nauruan man net fishing. Thanks so much Fredrick for your pic.
Net fishing, Nauru. Source: F. Canon, June 2013.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Isle of Tears by Deborah Challinor

Isle of Tears (Harper Collins, 2009)
I must admit I'm not a fan of historical romances but I thought I'd give this one a go as it was set in New Zealand during the Maori/Pakeha wars in the late 1800s. Deborah Challinor has a talent for historical writing and wanted to write about this conflict but felt she didn't have the cultural clout to do so as she wasn't a Maori. What she did to resolve this was to write through the eyes of Isla, an orphaned Pakeha teenager who was taken in by local Maori.
   Isla grows to womanhood and marries a young Maori warrior. When tensions ignite between Maori and Pakeha in the Waikato region Isla accompanies her man to war. Battle weary, Isla leaves the conflict to search for her younger siblings and is captured by officers of the queen who take her back to Auckland. Isla is determined to escape and return to the Taranaki region to be with her Maori family.
   Challinor has gone into great detail explaining the gritty realities of trench warfare. The reader can feel the hunger, the fear and desperation that the Maori must have gone through in these pitched battles. From the perspective of someone who is not a Kiwi I found a lot of the historical references confusing and confess I skimmed over a lot of the war strategy discussions. However the way Challinor describes daily Maori life is fascinating.
   Much of the dialogue is written in a broad Scottish accent which is initially unsettling, but becomes easier to cope with as you get engrossed in the story. A good novel for those who like historical romance.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Island Bound by Deb Loughead

Island Bound (Pearson Education
NZ, 2007)
Island Bound is Hannah's story of discontent when she finds out that her family are moving to Bermuda for two years. Hannah loves her home and friends in Canada and doesn't want to be uprooted, despite her love of Bermuda, where the family have regular holidays. The family flies to Bermuda for a week to find a house to rent and prepare for the big transition. Whilst riding a bicycle along the road, Hannah encounters an apparition. Hannah's house-keeper believes it's the ghost of Martha Cox but she won't elaborate. Hannah is determined to uncover more.
   This children's story starts out slowly, so slowly it may bore many readers, which is a shame because once the plot about the ghost kicks in, at around chapter six, it's actually quite an engaging story. A good one for primary school aged children if they have the stamina to persevere with the first third of the book.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tusi Tamasese webcast

Tusi Tamasese, Samoan born writer
and film director
For those interested in Pasifika movies, Tusi Tamasese, the Samoan born award winning writer and film director can be heard on the latest webcast from Pacific Voices-Commonwealth Writers. Tamasese talks to Kath Akuhata-Brown about his latest project 'The Orator'. To register, email Joe Byrde at j.byrde@commonwealth.int . The webcast is scheduled for Saturday the 15th of June, 2013, 6-6.45pm (NZST).

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Lost Island of Tamarind by Nadia Aguiar

Three children adrift on the ocean, land on a tropical island and begin searching for their parents who were washed overboard during a fierce storm. So begins the ambitious adventure The Lost island of Tamarind by Nadia Aguiar. The main characters Maya and Simon have to care for their infant sister as they trek through the treacherous terrain. On their journey they encounter carnivorous vegetation, blood-thirsty pirates, and an evil child-stealing woman who rides a jaguar. All this would be action enough but the island of Tamarind is in chaos as unscrupulous soldiers fight a bitter civil war.
The Lost Island of Tamarind
(Puffin, 2008)
   Aguiar writes lengthy passages of description which plunge the reader into a tropical zone, but tend to slow the pace in places. Her imagination is vivid. She tells of giants, mermaids, glowing mineral wealth and a village that lives in the tree-tops. I love the way she describes life on the Pamela Jane, the small boat the children call home. Also the wildlife she writes about sound wondrous: butterflies and monkeys, parrots and turtles.
   Although written for Young Adults I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy. It is a large tome though, so be prepared for a long read.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Maraea and the Albatrosses by Patricia Grace

Maraea and the Albatrosses (Puffin, 2008)
Maraea grew up in a Maori village on a clifftop overlooking the sea. Each year her family welcomed the nesting albatrosses and cared for the chicks when the parent birds were out gathering food. Year after year the village grew smaller as the older people died and the younger ones left to live elsewhere. Soon only  Maraea remained to welcome the albatrosses.
   This children's picture book shows how a local community can bond with an ecological phenomenon and make it central to their lives. The sadder theme though, deals with the notion of the seduction of the big cities and how rural communities can wither and die, along with their specialised local knowledge.
   The drawings appear to be done in water-colour and pastel, but I'm no expert in artistic technique. The birds are depicted accurately and the artist Brian Gunson captures the melancholy of the story.
   A beautiful picture story book pitched at young readers, but one that all ages can admire.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Micronesian canoes

A model of a Nauruan canoe.
Source: B. Montgomery
I recently travelled to Canberra and while there I was privileged to tour the Menzies library at the Australian National University. On the first floor were two exhibits from their Asia Pacific collection: a model of a Nauruan canoe and an actual outrigger canoe from Kiribati. Lovely examples of island craftsmanship.

An outrigger canoe from Kiribati. Source: B. Montgomery

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Where We Once Belonged by Sia Figiel

Where We Once Belonged
(Pasifika Press, 1997)
This book is challenging in that there is an awful lot of Samoan language peppered throughout and if you don't understand Samoan then you feel as if you're missing out on chunks of the story. The other thing which confronts readers is its unconventional structure. It doesn't follow a conventional linear narrative. Instead the reader gets the feeling that they are thrown in among a group of reminiscing or indeed gossiping teenage girls that they've never met and who continually lapse into their mother tongue or change the subject. The effect is actually engaging. You see how life in a Samoan village revolves around family and how this can be both a blessing and a burden. The central character Alofa struggles to assert herself and draw away from family expectations. Her friends are colourful and controversial and their stories are all fascinating.
   The book contains a sprinkling of mythology and shows how this ties the people to their land. People are depicted in a blunt way and Figiel's imagery is evocative. There are even a few poems in the text which also work well.
   I can't say I understood everything in this novel, but it was an eye-opening journey into adolescent life in Samoa in the 1970s. It also won the Commonwealth Writer's prize for the Asia Pacific region in 1997.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Last Men by Iago Corazza

The Last Men by Iago Corazza. (2008,White Star Publishers)
This book is breath-taking! I am known to take pretty average photographs so when I come across a coffee-table book of such exquisite photographic portraiture I am in awe. Corazza and his colleagues travelled to Papua New Guinea and Irian Jaya and attended sing-sings in the highlands. There they took hundreds of photographs of the myriad of costumes and finery on display. Costumes displayed everything from moss and shells to cassowary beaks, boar tusks, bird-of-paradise feathers, leaves, bilums and penis gourds.
   The detail in the pictures is so fine that you can imagine these proud and scary warriors right before you, complete with sweat and face paints.
   The book's full title is The last Men: Journey Among the Tribes of New Guinea but it seems to also be published as Farewell to the Last Man: Irian Jaya and Papua New Guinea. No matter what the title, it is just magnificent!
   Please note that the link above takes you to Corazza's website which is written in Italian but there are some super photographs at the introduction which give you a taste of his amazing work.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Throwim Way Leg by Tim Flannery

Throwim Way Leg
(Text, 1998)
If you are fascinated by the amazing wild life of New Guinea then this book is a real treasure. Scientist Tim Flannery spent many years travelling to New Guinea to undertake field research into the mammals there and has cobbled together a fascinating collection of anecdotes and accounts of his travels and work in the beautiful and often treacherous mountains of this large tropical island.
The Dingiso, a ground-living tree
 kangaroo discovered by  Flannery in
1994. Source: T. Flannery
   Flannery's descriptions of the landscape are evocative. It was easy to imagine the colourful frogs in the moss, the misty cold mountain tops and the fierce flooded waterways.
   A set of colour plates in the centre of the book shows some of the people he worked with, the stunning terrain and a few of the creatures he encountered.
   I loved this book and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in ecology or travel writing. For those interested in traditional lifestyles Throwim Way Leg tells of many customs of the Mountain people, how their way of life is changing due to Western influence and how this in turn impacts upon wildlife conservation.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound by Sandy Nelson

The Ghosts of Iron
 Bottom Sound
(2010, Harper Collins)
I was really interested to read this thinking it would have scary ghosts haunting Honiara or Bonegi Beach but no, it's not so dark. They are actually quite benevolent ghosts that reside in a book that the protagonist Paddy repeatedly borrows from the library. They hound the boy to ask his grandfather about the battle for Savo Island and the sinking of HMAS Canberra during WW2. Paddy's grandfather was a crew member on the fated ship and was rescued but hundreds weren't so lucky. Unfortunately his grandfather doesn't like to talk about his war experiences but he lets Paddy read his journal which outlines the full horror of the sea battle.
   The story is pitched at younger readers and the journal account of life on board the warship is fascinating and well presented for 8 to 12 year olds. I get a feeling older readers wouldn't be as captivated by the plot however.
   Nelson has obviously done a lot of research and the photographs in the back are a great addition to the story.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Commonwealth Shorts

There is a great creative venture going on right now in the Pacific where a group of Islander film-makers,writers and directors are working on some short films along the theme of relationships. The scheme is called Commonwealth Shorts and it is a partnership between Commonwealth Writers, B3 Media and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association/Worldview. The five short films, one documentary and four dramas, will be premiered in Auckland New Zealand on February the 26th.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J.Maarten Troost

Swampy land near the airport.
B. Montgomery, 1992
In 1992 I visited Kiribati for a week and stayed at the only decent hotel on Tarawa. I was amazed at how thin the atoll was. In some places it seemed only 50 metres from one side of the island, the lagoon, to the other side, the ocean. The whole place was awash with water and swampy areas made agriculture impossible. (I imagine with climate change things will only get worse.) The shops had even less variety than those in Nauru and there wasn't much to do except sit in the shade and try to cool down.
The Sex Lives of Cannibals
(Broadway Books, 2004)
   The Sex Lives Of Cannibals is a travel book which goes into far more detail of life on Tarawa. The author, J. Maarten Troost, spent two years in Kiribati and writes a refreshingly funny account of his experiences there. His frustrations with obtaining fresh water and something interesting to eat are familiar ones to expats in the central Pacific. Troost's quirky voice and sometimes contrary nature make some of his anecdotes hilarious. His way of solving the neighbourhood's noise pollution (ie: loud irritating music) is one that had me chuckling.
   There is a fair amount of swearing, so if you can't stomach profanities you may have to give it a miss. But I highly recommend this to expats throughout the Pacific and other island nations. So much of the content will make you nod and say 'That's right..., island time.'

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Marshall Islands~~~

The Marshall Islands~~~ by Island-Life
The Marshall Islands~~~, a photo by Island-Life on Flickr.

Happy New Year to everyone in the islands and beyond. May 2013 be a year of peace and prosperity, love and laughter.