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Posted June 8, 2008
This book is one of the best bar novels I¹ve ever read. It reminded me of 'Don't Stop the Carnival' (by Herman Wouk), which I purchased as an out-of-print copy. Here was the story of a middle-aged New York agent who exits the rat race and heads for the Caribbean (fictitious Island of Amerigo) to start a new life in paradise. He buys a hotel (Gull Reef Club) and begins to renovate but is stymied by oft-times comically tragic situations that turn his life upside down. Things in la-la land don't work like they do in the First World and the locals are as warmly endearing and they are indubitably infuriating. By the end of the story, Norman Paperman (main character) is packing his bags and heading for the airport. 'Pleasure Island' is a cautionary tale of similar beach-bar ilk. It too is written with a literary style and makes a point, albeit more philosophically and with an afterglow of optimism. Here is the story of a foreigner who arrives in tropical wonderland and tries to run a bar, build an island home, and even sojourn in his girlfriend¹s village home. But all these short episodes end in debacle, leaving our young adventurer wondrous, as reality infringes on the promise of an idyllic dream world. The main difference between these two books is that 'Pleasure Island' is an illustrated novella, capturing the bar world in the fewest possible words, while 'Don't Stop the Carnival' is 400 pages long and requires true grind to read from cover to cover. 'Don't Stop the Carnival' (although dated) might be compulsory reading for anyone wanting chuck it all and move to the Caribbean, but 'Pleasure Island' should be compulsory reading for anyone wanting to live, start a business, and/or get married to their local mermaid in the go-go dancing ³islands² of the Pacific. Even seasoned bar-goers will find humor in nuanced narrative and sprinkling of funny one-liners. Given that Herman Wouk¹s novel became a musical with lyrics by Jimmy Buffet, I could see 'Pleasure Island' morphing itself into film, perhaps as a fantasy (aka ³Lost Among the Mermaids²) or even as a dark comedy (aka 'Dr. Strangelove - How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bar.')Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.