THIS WEEK’S OTHER FEATURED BOOKS, “SO LATE TO THE PARTY,” BY KATE ANGUS, AND “THE STING OF THE BEE,” BY K.E. LANNING, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, OR BY CLICKING THE AUTHOR’S NAME ON OUR AUTHOR PAGE.
THE BOOK: Missile Paradise
PUBLISHED IN: 2016
THE AUTHOR: Ron Tanner
THE EDITOR: Robert Lasner
THE PUBLISHER: IG Publishing.
SUMMARY: Booklist starred review put it this way: “Tanner’s high-adrenaline, piquantly funny, bad-to-worse novel is set in the Marshall Islands, where the U.S. detonated 67 nuclear bombs between 1946 and 1958, subjecting the Marshallese to the unending consequences of nuclear fallout.
It’s 2004 at the start of this tale of cultural dissonance, hubris, anger, loss, and resiliency, and Cooper, a talented video-game programmer, is about to join a missile-defense group on the island of Kwajalein, a military stronghold on which Marshallese are not allowed after dark. But he has a freak accident after sailing alone across the Pacific from California, following a rift with his fiancée, and begins his stay on Kwajalein in rehab after losing a leg. A bizarre diving mishap has left Alison widowed with two young sons. Jeton, an impulsive Marshallese teenager jilted by his American girlfriend, propels himself into deep trouble. And Art, the flinty cultural liaison, fights discrimination against the Marshellese. In this poisoned island paradise besieged by poverty, disease, and rising sea levels precipitated by global warming, each irresistibly self-embattled character makes grievous mistakes, suffers from regret, and plunges into disaster. Tanner (From Animal House to Our House, 2012), who lived in the Marshall Islands and launched the Marshall Islands Story Project, brings this microcosm of human folly and valor to captivating realization with bracing insights, tangy humor, profound respect, and rebounding resonance.”
THE BACK STORY: I lived in the Marshall Islands—in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, closer to Japan than to Hawaii—when I was a teenager. It changed my life. It was there that I first witnessed the power of American culture on other people (the Marshallese) and I realized that the world was much larger and more complicated than I had imagined. The experience politicized me and I vowed to somehow help the Marshallese, if I could. That’s why I returned to the islands in 2008 to teach. “Missile Paradise” was difficult to write. At first it started out as a collection of stories. It took me ten years to get it right.
WHY THIS TITLE?: “Missile Paradise” refers to the place—the paradisiacal mid-Pacific islands, where the story occurs—and the missiles that the American government is building and testing out there.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? If you’re curious about the world—and Americans in the world—you’d find this book of interest. Although the story in “Missile Paradise” is fiction, everything I reveal in the book is true: we Americans do have a top secret missile base in the middle of the Pacific; the base is populated mostly by American civilians (programmers, engineers, and so on); the Marshallese (our hosts) are a thoroughly troubled people and soon their islands will be under water. Most Americans have never heard of any of this, but they should know.
Kirkus: “The themes here are major—global warming, imperialism, America’s role in the world (the story is set soon after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal). But Tanner displays a light touch, favoring snappy dialogue over didacticism. The result is winning…”
Booklist (starred): “Tanner…brings this microcosm of human folly and valor to captivating realization with bracing insights, tangy humor, profound respect, and rebounding resonance.”
Foreward: “Missile Paradise critiques American privilege abroad, yet does so in brilliant context. This is a deeply humane story of coming to terms with loss, stitched with moments of humor and genuine heart.”
Library Journal: “A fascinating read.”
Publisher’s Weekly: “Tanner…is at his best when depicting the very human flaws, obsessions, and prejudices his characters face, all against a vivid island background where summer never seems to end and social progress is at a standstill.”
AUTHOR PROFILE: I was born in California but grew up mostly in North Carolina. I lived for a time in the Marshall Islands and returned later to teach there, living on the capital island, Majuro, where I established the Marshall Island Story Project, to help save the oral culture of the Marshallese: http://www.mistories.org/. Currently, I live on an historic farm, north of Baltimore. When we bought it, the farm hadn’t been touched since 1959, so we’ve been doing tons of work on it: http://houselove.org/farm/
Before that, my wife and I were living in a big Baltimore brownstone that was a wrecked and abandoned fraternity when we bought it. We spent 15 years bringing it back to its original Victorian splendor. Our work was featured in THIS OLD HOUSE magazine and I wrote a book about the adventure: From Animal House to Our House: a Love Story. Here’s the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx2nt7SRg58
Now we operate our farm as a nonprofit to promote the preservation and restoration of historic family farms. This venture includes a writer’s retreat: http://houselove.org/farm/retreat/ Eventually we’ll have programming and events.
I teach writing at Loyola University-Maryland and hope to retire one day to work full time on my farm. Currently I’m working on a collection of stories, a collection of essays, and a novel, which is based on my experience as a professional musician on Nevada’s casino circuit.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: “Missile Paradise is a fun book to read (everyone tells me)—there’s adventure and exoticism—but it’s also about important issues: the limits of American ambition and the blind, sometimes crazy pursuit of the American dream, exploitation of “undeveloped” cultures, globalization of Americana (music, consumerism), as well as global warming and the ruin of our environment. So, there’s lots to think about here. “
or go here: http://www.ronaldtanner.com/books/
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & noble, etc.
PRICE: You can buy it from me for $12 here: http://www.ronaldtanner.com/rons-shop/
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: firstname.lastname@example.org