Thursday, June 04, 2009

Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost

J. Maarten Troost, Lost on Planet China. New York: Doubleday, 2008. paperback, 382 pps.

I have become a fan of Troost. I was first introduced to his rollicking style in The Sex Lives of Cannibals and went
on to laugh through Getting Stoned with Savages. Lost on Planet China is Troost's third book and I hope there are
many more to come.

J. Maarten Troost decided to go check out China. He was unable to pick up any Mandarin Chinese and knew virtually
no one when he landed in China. The book narrates his haphazard voyages around mainland China. I learned several
things from this book: the air in China is incredibly foul, and so are the bathrooms. Prostitution is rampant there.
Karaoke bars are very popular. At one such bar, he was forced to sing "Hotel California" for his guide of the day
whose name was MewMew. People are numerous. Lines are disorderly and little kids are encouraged to use the streets
as a restroom. And I won't quickly forget the mental image of schoolkids pissing on the Great Wall.

While retaining his humor, Troost also addresses the race toward Industrialization and Bigger Cities that continues
to be going on in China as well as the desert which continues to threaten to overtake Bejiing. Not a riotous book
but still recommended to those who like his writing.

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