Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Non-Fiction: Rascals in Paradise

James A. Michener & A. Grove Day, Fawcett Crest, 1983)
Originally printed in 1957, its reprint in 1983 had undoubtedly something to do with the author's unbridled success as a best selling novelist at the time. A perfect book for a precocious pre-teen youth who dreams of south sea adventure but gets bored by Errol Flynn movies. Other people might find it useful for learning the true events behind such legendary stories as The Mutiny on the Bounty, including the before, during and after. Modern purveyors of low culture will find the chapter on Leetag, the legendary American painter of black velvet kitsch that lived and partied in Tahiti. Easily five out of the 10 chapters of the book read as if they could make a damned exciting movie, if not a mini series. The chapters on "Charles !" and Dona Isabel make one sick to the stomach from disbelief and disgust, being yet more narratives proving that the stupid and evil always land on their feet. The stories would also make great films—though Hollywood would probably want to make Dona Isabel a nice person. The most un-understandable of all stories narrated is that of Will Mariner. Homesick or not, why a guy would want to give up all that which he managed to create on a dream island in exchange for the dull life (and death) he returned to in England defies comprehension. Well researched – as to be expected from a Michener book, non-fiction or not – with a thick bibliography, the book is an easy and informative read, both for those interested in the subject and those just looking for something entertaining to read while soaking in the tub.

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