Welcome to the Hotel Honolulu, a down-at-the-heels tourist place on a back street two blocks from the beach at Waikiki, where middle America stays and dreams. Like the Canterbury pilgrims, every guest in this eighty-room hotel has come in search of something— sun, love, happiness, un-namable longing— and everyone has a story. Honeymooners, vacationers, wanderers, mythomaniacs, soldiers, and families all land at the Hotel Honolulu. But the hotel is as suited to being a crime scene as a love nest. Fortunately, our keen-eyed narrator , a writer down on his luck, is there to relate all the comings and goings. He’s lost money, friends, house, and family, and he has no experience running a hotel. But all that doesn’t stop Buddy, the boozy owner of the place— the last of a dying breed— from signing him on as manager. It isn’t long before the hotel expands to encompass the narrator’s whole universe. His original plan of escape from a life of the mind becomes something altogether different: a way to return to the world he left, the world of imagined life.
No one but Paul Theroux could write this romp of a book, with its acutely drawn characters and canny insights into a place that is often viewed as a simple island paradise. In this unforgettable novel, Theroux shows us a funny languid floating world, island style. This is the essence of Hawaii as it has never been depicted, and it is also the heart of America.