The Beach , though it is more grown-up and better written. Like Garland, Landers puts dissa"/>
 

COSWELL'S GUIDE TO TAMBRALINGA

Scott Landers, Author
Scott Landers, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $24 (352p) ISBN 978-0-374-13021-3
Reviewed on: 06/14/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4299-2199-2
Show other formats
FORMATS

This ambitious first novel invites comparisons with Alex Garland's The Beach , though it is more grown-up and better written. Like Garland, Landers puts dissatisfied Westerners seeking fulfillment in a deceptively idyllic Southeast Asia, in this case the fictional island of Tambralinga. At the center is Conrad, a meek computer systems analyst on a desperate second honeymoon with Lucy, who's furious at him for losing her all-important guidebook. Fearing "that he was missing it, that better half of existence, the throbbing center of what it meant to be alive," Conrad heads to a brothel on another island, while Lucy finds the guidebook and embarks on her own adventure. The couple's estrangement permits Landers to detail well-rendered but fairly typical highlights of their tours: Buddhist monks with mystical powers, star-lit beach trysts, secret swimming spots, prostitution and drug use, all set against the background of a hazily sketched political-religious conflict. But if Landers sometimes succumbs to travel-novel clichés, his Conrad is older and more complex, imbued with a welcome skepticism—a tired detachment that evokes Fowler from The Quiet American —about the "appallingly deliberate" nature of adventure tourism in Asia. Toward the end, thoughtfulness gives way to a flurry of action and implausible coincidences. But readers will find the ride, half jungle cruise and half roller coaster, worth the price of admission. Agent, Caron Knauer. (June)

The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X