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Tales from the torrid zone : travels in the deep tropics
Alexander Frater
Adult Nonfiction G910 .F73 2007

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Frater, author of Chasing the Monsoon, was born in Vanuatu, where his mother had run two schools and his father, a "misinari dokta," had taught and practiced medicine. His grandfather had been a much-revered Presbyterian missionary on nearby Paama Island. Not everyone born and bred in the tropics likes tropical life; many envy the seasons or schools or health services of the temperate world. But just as church bells in the tropics have a unique resonance, so Frater himself has the human version of "tropical resonance." Everything about life in the tropics-food, diseases, insects, religion, rivers, language, drink, forestry, human sweat-is endlessly fascinating for him, reminding him of a story he heard traveling downstream from Mandalay, or filming in Mozambique, or riding a bus into Rarotonga. He finds the smallest details of tropical life so entertaining, he barely notices the attendant inconveniences. Thus he makes the insects eating his grandfather's book-selectively consuming its constituent parts, "the spine's sweet glue and crunchy muslin, biscuity strawboard covers, a confit of gold leaf licked from the titles"- sound like regular gourmands. Frater's final tale, of how he brought a grand English bell to his grandfather's church on Paama, forms a fitting grace note to an outstanding memoir. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

A former chief travel correspondent for London's Observer, Frater (Chasing the Monsoon) returns to the hot, wet regions of the earth known as the tropics, where he was born and grew up as the grandson of a missionary, Maurice Frater. His story begins and ends with his eventful quest for a special bell for a church memorializing his influential grandfather on the small Melanesian island of Paama. As Frater circles the globe, he visits Vanuatu, Burma, Oman, the Amazon River, the Cook Islands, the Serengeti, the Comoro Islands, and dozens of other tropical spots. Like a jungle vine, his stories lead in all directions, but they are entwined: they touch on the conflicts between old ways and new, the young and the old, the ordinary and the eccentric, colonized and postcolonial life, obscure and well-known islands, unspoiled beauty and desolation, traditional customs and tourism, and the disease and hazards of the land as well as its simple bounty. In this beautifully written book, Frater examines people and places from a detached perspective, but his thoughts and conversations reveal the torrid zone on a very personal level. The reader can almost feel the stifling wet heat. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Melissa Stearns, Franklin Pierce Coll. Lib., Rindge, NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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