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Summary and book reviews of Headhunters on My Doorstep by J. Maarten Troost

Headhunters on My Doorstep

A True Treasure Island Ghost Story

by J. Maarten Troost

Headhunters on My Doorstep
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2013, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2014, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Bob Sauerbrey

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Book Summary

Headhunters on My Doorstep is a funny yet poignant account of one man's journey to find himself that will captivate travel writing aficionados, Robert Louis Stevenson fans, and anyone who has ever lost his way.

Readers and critics alike adore J. Maarten Troost for his signature wry and witty take on the adventure memoir. Hailed by Entertainment Weekly as a "funny, candid, and down-to-earth travel companion," Troost's bestselling debut, The Sex Lives of Cannibals, is an enduring favorite about life in the South Seas.

Headhunters on My Doorstep chronicles Troost's return to the South Pacific after his struggle with alcoholism and time in rehab left him numb to life. Deciding to retrace the path once traveled by the author of Treasure Island, Troost "follows" Robert Louis Stevenson to the Marquesas, the Tuamotus, Tahiti, the Gilberts, and Samoa, explaining (and demonstrating) how these exotic locales earned nicknames like, "The Man Eating Isle," "The Refuge of Exiles," and "The Island of Merrymaking."

Somewhere en route from Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Tahiti to exploring islands as Robert Louis Stevenson saw them, Troost gradually awakens to the beauty of life and reconnects with his family and the world.  Headhunters on My Doorstep is a funny yet poignant account of one man's journey to find himself that will captivate travel writing aficionados, Robert Louis Stevenson fans, and anyone who has ever lost his way.

Chapter One

Everyone has problems. Spend a few moments catching up with friends and you're likely to hear a litany of catastrophes.

"I lost my job at the prison," one might say.

"I'm going to prison," says another.

"I'm about to lose my home."

"I blew mine up to collect the insurance."

"My ferret died."

"I ate mine."

". . ."

"Long story."

Tales of woe had become inescapable. What were once simple quandaries now seemed to come equipped with trapdoors. One misstep and you'd tumble into the chute of doom, where demotions became terminations, homeowners became squatters, and Little Bandit was no longer safe. I was no exception. I too had problems. Multitudes of problems. If something could go wrong, it usually did. The only law that seemed to apply to me was Mr. Murphy's. For a long while, decades even, the sun had shone upon me. Life had been an effortless glide. I'd traveled the world, married my soul mate, sired two strapping ...

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Reviews

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Troost's Headhunters on My Doorstep is delightful, hilarious, and filled with wisdom grounded in an engaging sense of humor. He mirrors Stevenson's own reflection, “I never knew the world was so amusing,” which he uses on the front-piece. Though Troost does give us a guide to exploring the South Pacific and describes both the histories and cultures of various islands, the story is very much a memoir. Though he doesn't obsess on his own drunken odyssey and the collapse of his life which led him to begin the journey to sobriety, that is important context for understanding how he experiences these islands. He may treat his own drunken escapades with hilarity, but beneath the laughter there is great determination and hope.   (Reviewed by Bob Sauerbrey).

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Media Reviews
Barnes and Noble

In the midst of all his misadventures...is the story of how Troost's eventful trek stabilized him and renewed his connections with the world around him.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A rambunctious, intimate trip well worth the armchair time.

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In Vino Veritas…?

Pen in wine glassThe list is long: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Marcel Proust, Charles Baudelaire, Jack London, F Scott Fitzgerald, Philip K. Dick, Edna St. Vincent Millay, O. Henry, William Burroughs, Ken Kesey, Jack Kerouac, Dorothy Parker, Tennessee Williams…and many more. American writers Eugene O'Neill, Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, and William Faulkner were alcoholics who won Nobel Prizes in literature. In some minds, alcohol and drug addictions have become synonymous with famous writers and other artists. This raises the question about whether intoxicants enhance one's creativity or whether these troubled artists produced great work in spite of their deep sickness of body, mind, and spirit.

Pearl Buck, another Nobel laureate, ...

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