In the Marshall Islands, an island-nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that was once a testing ground for nuclear bombs, American engineers and programmers are making and testing missiles while their "hosts," the indigenous Marshallese, sweep their streets and clean their houses. It's 2004, the Iraq war is heating up, and 9/11 is fresh in everyone's minds. FollowingIn the Marshall Islands, an island-nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that was once a testing ground for nuclear bombs, American engineers and programmers are making and testing missiles while their "hosts," the indigenous Marshallese, sweep their streets and clean their houses. It's 2004, the Iraq war is heating up, and 9/11 is fresh in everyone's minds. Following four interconnected story lines—the meltdown of a burned-out cultural liaison who has "gone native" and bitterly resents his role in keeping the Marshallese down; a young programmer who has lost his leg in a reckless solo sailing journey; the struggles of a young widow with two children whose husband drowned in a mysterious diving accident; and the destructive spiral of a Marshallese teenager whose American girlfriend rejects him when she returns to the States—Missile Paradise is an epic, heartbreaking, and satirical novel about the clash of cultures between the Americans trying to realize their American Dream in this seeming paradise, and the Marshallese who are both angered and bedazzled by that dream....
|Number of Pages||:||372 Pages|
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Missile Paradise Reviews
I appreciate each character’s ability to persevere. They experience extreme loss – of love, limb, identify - but Tanner leaves the reader with possibility. No one has life “figured-out,” but each character continues to put in the effort to live. It’s not necessarily the naturalism of John Steinbeck, but echoes the importance of time and place in history (in this case, the Marshall Islands in a post 911 world) that a human can’t control, but must be a part of. A favorite quote: “It’s a promise Alison makes earnestly and fervently. But she realizes with rising sadness that it is a promise she will very likely break. If there’s one thing she has learned since moving here, it’s that a wish can cheer you, give you boost, even move you from one point to the next, but in the end it’s a delicate thing, like a moth beating at a window pane. Is this pessimism? She doesn’t want to lose hope! But perhaps this is what come of growing older: you must accommodate yourself to a revised understanding of the world and admit that wanting something, event wanting something until every bone in your body aches, will not change your life.” (241)Here’s a podcast from his Enoch Pratt Free Library reading with a fab intro from Michael Downs: http://www.prattlibrary.org/booksmedi...#
This book transported me across the Pacific Ocean like a 19th-century adventure tale, introducing characters and islands far beyond my experience. In that way it's like sailing the seas with Ahab and Ishmael or getting lost with Robinson Crusoe. But MISSILE PARADISE also has a 21st-century sensibility. Its characters are keenly aware of global concerns and politics and the price paid for such adventures. The book pushes characters to their limits -- and sometimes those characters push themselves – so that MISSILE PARADISE becomes a thrilling, thought-provoking page-turner. It stirred me to recall lives I might have led ... and still could.
I really really wanted to like this book more, since I had once lived on Kwajalein. However, I had trouble finishing it and when I did, I was disappointed that not all the stories even had a conclusion. One of these made no sense at all, and didn't really relate so much to Kwaj as it did to sailing. At any rate, I am sad to say that I cannot recommend this book to anyone, especially those who have been to Kwaj.
Historically and culturally current and sensitive; probably realistic but lacked integration of the several plots running through it to complete the story line.
Working through a list of possible Pulitzer Prize winners for 2017, I encountered this novel. Glad I did.*MissileParadise* takes place on Kwajalein and Ebeye, islands in the Marshall Islands chain, and intertwines the stories of residents both native Marshallese and American contractors; our sympathy clearly tips toward the natives who, as is so often the case, were poorly treated and disrespected, but continue to happily enjoy their lives. Everybody shares the losses, however: lost boats, bodies, virginity, love, and, of course, the islands themselves, which are steadily losing out to Nature and global warming. A good read for the characters and the truth.http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/nati...
Like other reviewers, I enjoyed the separate characters' stories, but I thought perhaps they would tie together at the end. The last 20 pages were really the most exciting. The individual plots were intriguing and kept me reading, the characters were engaging and identifiable, but the character I found myself most cheering for, didn't even have his story finished up in a satisfying way. It was a well-written book about race and culture conflicts and "is America all that it's cracked up to be?" But overall as a novel, I had to rate it "just okay".
Trouble in paradise? Yep. Yet this book was a satisfying read on many levels. I was looking for quirky with a touch of summer-isn't-over-yet. Also, some intellectual stimulation but not non-fiction gravitas. Of course I always want a well-informed author without preachy, soap box diatribes. This book delivers on all counts - no easy feat when taking on global warming, the rights of indigenous people, and a hard look at how the US asserts its (military) culture on/in a small island nation where individualism is not a cultural priority.Tanner clearly has legit expertise on the Marshallese and this complicated situation. And his opinions are clear in the 4 overlapping tales that reflect 4 different slices of life (& people) on these islands. Yet the book maintains a very impressive balance between presenting difficult facts, maintaining the elements of good fiction, and not insulting a reader who may have a differing opinion on any of the given hot button topics in the book. The wry humor of certain characters gives this a bit of satire-done-right, too. Kudos, Tanner.