White Savages in the South Seas

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Verso, 1995 - Travel - 203 pages
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White Savages in the South Seas is a book about Polynesia after the cruise ships have sailed, the jet has flown off into the sunset and the maitai curtain has droppeed on a dream that was more performance than reality.

Writing with zest, humor and great affection, Mel Kernahan introduces the reader to the islands of Polynesia and an array of extraordinary inhabitants: Susy No Pants who lives an uproarious life of pleasure but never strays far from who she is or where she came from; a nuclear nomad from Tuamotus who attempts suicide by ancient means in California's Balboa Fun Zone, home of the chocolate-dipped frozen banana; an elderly Tahitian freedom fighter, revered by his people, who is smuggled off the island to a French prison in an attempt to silence him; French officials who concoct an elaborate charade to create an uplifting image of the Foreign Legion in Papeete. The author encounters, on remote islands where tourists seldom tread, missionaries, visionaries, drunk bureaucrats, randy kings and Ghost Woman.

Kernahan does not find paradise, although she admits to looking for it. Instead she presents, in travel writing who exuberance pushes the limits of the genre, a reality riddled with potholes, shifting truths and a distinct lack of answers.
  

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Contents

Behind the Mai Tai Curtain
15
French Foreign Legion in Eden
36
Simone
54
What Do Naked Women Want?
67
Life of an Ariki
81
Damn You Robert Dean Frisbie
95
The Young Unmarried
111
Boardinghouse Island Style
127
Defection to Mitiaro
144
HMNZS Waikato Day
161
And on the Seventh Day
180
EPILOGUE Death of Three Heroes
193
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

Mel Kernahan has written for Cosmopolitan, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Sacramento Bee as well as various Pacific Island publications. She was the first woman ever selected by the Cook Islands government to serve as Overseas Public Information Officer, and has worked as a cultural consultant on Polynesia to the City of Los Angeles and UCLA.

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