By Paul Theroux
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618095018, 432pp.)
Publication Date: May 1, 2001
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Like the Canterbury pilgrims, every guest in this eighty-room hotel has come in search of something -- sun, love, happiness, unnamable longing -- and everyone has a story. Honeymooners, vacationers, wanderers, mythomaniacs, soldiers, and families all land at the Hotel Honolulu. But the hotel is as suited to being a crime scene as a love nest. Fortunately, our keen-eyed narrator, a writer down on his luck, is there to relate all the comings and goings. He's lost money, friends, house, and family, and he has no experience running a hotel. But all that doesn't stop Buddy, the bloated, boozy hotel owner -- the last of a dying breed -- from signing him on as manager. It isn't long before the hotel expands to encompass the narrator's whole world. His original plan of escape from a life of the mind becomes something altogether different: a way to return to the world he left, the world of imagined life.
No one but Paul Theroux could write this romp of a book, with its acutely drawn characters and canny insights into a place that is often viewed as a simple island paradise. In this unforgettable novel, Theroux shows us a funny, languid, louche floating world, island style. This is the essence of Hawaii as it has never been depicted, and it is also the heart of America.
PAUL THEROUX is the author of many highly acclaimed books. His novels include A Dead Hand and The Mosquito Coast, and his renowned travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and Dark Star Safari. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.