Don’t Stop the Carnival: A Novel

by carriacou

in Modern Caribbean Novels

Don't Stop the Carnival: A Novel

Don't Stop the Carnival: A Novel Rating:
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Product Description

It's every parrothead's dream: to leave behind the rat race of the workaday world and start life all over again amidst the cool breezes, sun-drenched colors, and rum-laced drinks of a tropical paradise.

It's the story of Norman Paperman, a New York City press agent who, facing the onset of middle age, runs away to a Caribbean island to reinvent himself as a hotel keeper. (Hilarity and disaster -- of a sort peculiar to the tropics -- ensue.)

It's the novel in which the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of such acclaimed and bestselling novels as The Caine Mutiny and War and Remembrance draws on his own experience (Wouk and his family lived for seven years on an island in the sun) to tell a story at once brilliantly comic and deeply moving.

Details

  • ISBN13: 9780316955126
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous July 19, 1996 at 4:15 pm

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After traveling the Carribean, you
realize those folks march to a different
beat. Time is not very important in the
land of sun and azure seas unless you
are a transported New Yorker trying to
buy and run a broken down hotel on a
small tourist resort island. A must
read if you have ever dreamed of
shucking it all and moving to the islands
to live “happily ever after!”

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Conzac@aol.com November 10, 1997 at 12:39 am

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A classic tale describing “a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” Wouk spins a yarn that is both humorous and tragic. Don’t Stop the Carnival is one of the few books I have read more than once. Aditionally, this is a must read for Parrotheads.

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MRoss61793@aol.com February 20, 1998 at 8:34 am

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I sought after this book , upon hearing that Jimmy Buffett was writing the music for a broadway produced play, based on the book.The characters are well written and humorous throughout the novel.The descriptions of the island made me want to get on a plane and find a tropical hotel. GREAT BOOK!

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Anonymous February 27, 1998 at 9:34 pm

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Required reading if you intend to start up a business (especially a resort) in the Caribbean, eh Chaz?

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Anonymous March 31, 1998 at 7:53 am

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As a Parrothead (Jimmy Buffett fan) I was anxious to read one of JB’s favorite books which is the basis for his “Don’t Stop the Carnival” musical (with Wouk writing the stageplay). Unfortunately the story is predictable and shallow. The novel reads more like a long short story with a lack of depth and a difficulty in identifying with the characters. I loved some of Wouk’s later novels so much I was let down. I did enjoy the island descriptions which transported me to this imaginary island. Wouk’s skills are visable but the story is weak. Could he have written this when he was in grade school?

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rem@fscvax.wvnet.edu April 29, 1998 at 12:25 pm

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On target at capturing the nuances of life in the islands. What some may not know is that Wouk wrote the novel while he was living in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. It was not well received there by locals as his characters may have resembled some. Later he moved. It is a cult classic there among many who live or lived (self) there for awhile.

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InLimbo2@aol.com May 29, 1998 at 11:20 am

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Herman Wouk has written a novel about everyone’s dream… getting away to the tropics and leaving the world behind. Norman Paperman, the main character, does just this when he buys a hotel in Amerigo. Being a Parrothead, I had to read this book to see what all the hubbub was about. I was not disappointed.

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Stephen Bryant June 29, 1998 at 12:47 am

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Being a Parrothead, I dearly wanted to enjoy this book, I tried to enjoy this book, but I found Wouk’s writing style to be dull and lifeless. The story concept was good, but was quickly slaughtered by Wouk’s amateurish ramblings. Norman Paperman came off as a shallow, light-handed yuppie, better suited for a Harlequin novella.

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Anonymous July 11, 1998 at 4:00 am

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I too read this book as a result of Jimmy Buffet’s musical. At first I was disappointed with what appeared to be a shallow story line. However, after some reflection, I realized that Herman Wouk wasn’t just telling a story, he was narrating a psychological transformation in Norman Paperman. Norman Paperman goes off to the Caribbean in search of dreams escaping the mundane life he had worked so hard to create. After living the dream for a short time, he realized that his prior life and family wasn’t so bad after all. The book ends with Norman Paperman selling his hotel to another seeking his life’s dream. Norman Paperman went through his mid-life crisis and another begins.

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Anonymous July 13, 1998 at 12:02 pm

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This was a very entertaining book about trying to make it in Kinja land. Norman Paperman has to deal with everything that possibly could go wrong in trying to make a new life away from the city. There are some very funny parts in the book and each page has you wondering how he could possible go on. This book is a must read to understand and appreciate the latest Jimmy Buffett CD “Don’t Stop the Carnival”.

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Anonymous July 18, 1998 at 10:39 pm

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I read this book as a teenager when it first was published in 1965 and, frankly, I didn’t think much of it. Now in my mid 40s, I decided to reread it and, predictably, found new meaning in what Wouk’s Norman Paperman went through. Beside being fast and fun reading, this is a must for anyone of any age who thinks moving away from “the grind” to some fantasy locale is the answer to all of life’s many pressures and problems. In fact, on two recent vacations to island settings (much like the book’s fictional Amerigo), I ran into a few Norman Papermans who all had A STORY. Once back home, I fondly remembered this book and was happy to be back in the smog and traffic!

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Anonymous July 19, 1998 at 7:45 pm

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I also got “into” this book after buying Buffett’s recent album of the same name. When I bought the book I didn’t pay attention to when it was written. Given the time when Wouk authored the story, it’s not a bad read. I had hoped for a more “modern” story though. I laughed at several of the mishaps that befall Norman (the main character), but after a while, I was tired of everything “having” to go wrong. Perhaps I am naive of life in the tropics, or am overly optimistic, but it’s difficult to believe that many things would go wrong simultaneously. Overall, I’d have given the book 3.5 stars if possible, but rounded to four based on the relation to the Buffett album.

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Anonymous August 30, 1998 at 4:29 pm

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Don’t Stop the Carnival is a breeze to read. It has a deep theme, but you don’t have to read deep into it to get it. Sometimes, sadly enough, there are no extreme measures you can take to make your life better. I identified with Norman Paperman, and got a laugh out of all his mishaps (thinking, “that sort of thing would happen to me”). Despite the theme, it is not a pessimistic book at all. Wouk also tells us that we have to make the best out of what we have, or “roll with the punches”. The lively characters and tragic ending reminded me of Hemingway (Whom I am also a fan of).

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Anonymous September 3, 1998 at 2:14 am

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Don’t stop the carnival is a very funny book. I read about 2 books a month and laughed out loud at this book at least six times in the first half of the book.

While I am a very big parrott head, this book is amusing in its own right.

The interesting thing is Herman Wouk wrote some very serious books(Winds of War, et al)yet, this book is a great word picture with humor.

It also fills in several major gaps in Jimmy’s latest attempt(can anyone say mid life crisis or writers cramp). Thank god he has talented back up singers.

Regards, Alan Bosslet

PS: This is dedicated to Emily Audrey!

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Anonymous September 19, 1998 at 9:58 am

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Readers might think this is all a bit fantastic as written down by Herman Wouk. It is not. I am living on such a small tropical island and the situation is so similair that I am convinced that it is situated here on this island. I see it happen every day, people coming here from the civilized world, falling in love with the beautiful place, and seeing thousands of great business opportunities. Until they actually start, and see that things are going wrong, one by one, or all at the same time, the latter more likely. For some reason things simply do not work out, and they happen exactly like descibed in this book. It is written in a wonderful style, and raise signs of recognition all the time. And it is a fair warning to all those who want to flee from the urban world to a tropical paradise.

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Anonymous October 23, 1998 at 4:18 am

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If you have ever dreamt of leaving the rat race and moving to the Caribbean to retire, this book will make you think twice. Tourists to the Caribbean often fall in love with the beauty of the island, but seldom experience life on the island. This book will make you respect and understand the natives’ popular saying, “No problem, Mon.”

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Anonymous November 30, 1998 at 12:01 pm

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Entertaining story. Gives a well painted picture of life in the Caribbean and all the beauty and headaches that can go with it. The story takes place in 1959 and the autor does a wonderful job of putting you there. We just don’t cocktail like they used to do we?

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Anonymous January 28, 1999 at 9:55 pm

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Great Fun!!! I read this book at the suggestion of Jimmy Buffet. I too would pick this as one of only 10 books if stranded on a desert island.(Along with anything that Carl Hiaasen has ever written!) Very readable. As with any good writer, Wouk has a way of transporting the reader to the Island of “Amerigo” and to the Resort known as the “Gull Reef Club”. I loved “Atlas” as well as “Iris”. And of course mine host, the Jack Lemmonish “Norman Paperman”. I found the book’s ending fitting. I can’t believe that more people haven’t read this book! I can’t wait to buy Jimmy Buffett’s Soundtrack to this novel.

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Anonymous February 8, 1999 at 1:22 pm

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If anyone is interested in working in the hotel business, this is a must read. It was written as fiction, but it could be a textbook for the hospitality industry. As a hotelier, if anyone says to me, “What is it like doing what you do?”, I tell them to read this book. If you work in a hotel, you will experience all that Norman does, and probably then some. Of course, some of us psycho’s thrive on this stuff.

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jbarnett@apr.com March 23, 1999 at 5:44 pm

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Took this book to Cancun and could not put it down. After listening to Jimmy Buffets music regarding the soundtrack I throughly enjoyed it.

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Anonymous April 2, 1999 at 9:03 pm

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Having lived in the Caribbean for many years I can only say that Wouk’s rather childish view of the US Virgins was the result of a shallow look at Caribbean island life. The storyline is quite good and some of the ‘island style’, ‘island time’ happenings show accurately the frustrations that are a fact in almost every kind of meaningful endeavour that one tries to accomplish in the islands. But Wouk didn’t get into the heart of the Caribbean people or their culture (well, a steel band, I suppose) and the fact that the book is set amongst tropical islands. He could have made much more of the water, the beaches, the yachting, the sport fishing that give the islands their vibrancy. The problems that he encountered with the renovating of ‘The Gull Reef Club’ are accurate and sometimes amusing in a corny sort of way but the ending was weak. Altogther disappointing

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Anonymous April 7, 1999 at 4:19 am

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I read this adventuresome tale after hearing Buffett’s soundtrack. I was expecting a predictable yet descriptive ‘Buffettesque’ tale of the tropics. I was pleasantly surprised and extremely taken back by this novel. It is very descriptive, Herman Wouk’s way not Buffett’s, but what made it an absolute masterpiece was Wouk’s ability to introduce and familiarize the reader with so many unique characters. Although written in the 60′s, an attentive reader can sense that Wouk has generalized the storyline enough to fit ANY time.

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Anonymous May 18, 1999 at 6:40 pm

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Wouk has captured the spirit of the islands, but in a simpler time unfortunately long past. While many of the frustrations of life in paradise are amusingly presented, the serpent has been in the garden and the apple has been tasted. There are few instances of “quaint and gentle island culture” remaining today. There are quite too many demagogues and modern politicians here now. It was refreshing to read how it once was and to be able to see around us the remnants of a kinder and gentler time past. Wouk has remarkable ability to make us laugh at our foibles and see ourselves in his characters. Thorougly enjoyable.

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Phil Semenuk semenup@mich.com May 19, 1999 at 11:39 am

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This book is characteristic of the people of the Caribbean. Slow to move but eventually you’ll get there.After hearing Jimmy Buffet’s version I wanted to find out more and was not dissapointed. The book flows very well in this readers mind and is one of the better book I’ve read

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Anonymous May 25, 1999 at 9:45 am

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I too was captured by Jimmy Buffetts’ Musical score of this Carribean Adventure, and wanted to read his inspiration. Herman Wauk is now one of my favorite authors. I could really sympathize with Norman Paperman, and I found myself falling in love with Iris as the story went on. Hats off to you Mr. Wauk I will pursue the rest of your works and read them all!!!!!

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Anonymous July 12, 1999 at 4:58 am

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This is one of very few 5 star books in my opinion. It certainly transcends time and its sense of place is so inviting. A philosophy of life that states “in the end you are who you are.”

Highly recommended!

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Anonymous October 30, 1999 at 7:52 am

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None of the female characters in this book fare well. The only beautiful, cultured, deeply intelligent woman, Iris, is villanized for being a beautiful, cultured, deeply intelligent woman, who drinks heavily and can only find true love with married men. Iris’s biggest crime is that she’s not Jewish. She has a love affair with Norman Paperman, then conveniently dies after a binge that reveals puffy eyes, and a mean temper. (The only other casualty is a gay man, killed by a police officer simply for being gay). The other women include Norman’s wife Henny, who tolerates his affairs and spends most of the book in bed with a mysterious malady, leaving Norm free game for Iris. When Henny recovers she’s appealingly thin, in contrast to Iris’s alcoholic bloat, a lively do-gooder always ready to forgive her husband’s indiscretions. In a modern film adaptation, she’d be re-named Hillary, her slim ankles a miracle of liposuction. Their daughter Hazel, pretty enough to make her own father drool, is a fool. The African/Caribbean women (and men) are either ethnic stereotypes or poseurs. Shame on you, Herman. Did you hate your mother? Did a tall blonde woman spank you in nursery school? I’d like to read your analyst’s review of this book.

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Anonymous January 10, 2000 at 6:00 pm

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This is one of the best books I have ever read and I like to consider myself somewhat well-read. Herman Wouk has developed characters that truly come to life. You will not be able to put this book down. You will be compelled to keep reading wondering to yourself “What else could possibly go wrong?”. Despite the moral of the story, you’ll want to run right out and purchase a Carribean hotel. When you’re done reading, listen to Don’t Stop the Carnival by Jimmy Buffett. The CD doesn’t make any sense until you read this book.

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Peter Williams February 4, 2000 at 1:09 pm

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I had to hear Jimmy Buffet’s take on this book before I was pursuaded to buy it.The first word that comes to mind is,CUTE.Mr.Paperman had to be a moron,so thank god it is a story.So,so good,typical of Mr.Wouk,vivid and poiniant.He takes you on a journey to fairy land,sets you up then,pop,reality check.One of thoes authors who grabs you and will not let you put the book down until you are finished reading it.Excelent read.

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Anonymous February 18, 2000 at 7:56 am

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Herman Wouk’s “Don’t Stop the Carnival” is a great joyride from the first page to it’s unexpected ending. I would suggest it to any serious reader in the mood for a good tale…

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Jacksons Chameleon879 April 26, 2000 at 1:26 pm

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I was so inspired by Jimmy to read and I did. I absolutely loved it. It told about a man who did what everyone wants to do, live on a beutiful tropical island. But what don’t think about is that how much of a nightmare it can become. If you read this book, be sure to get the CD by Jimmy Buffet to listen to while reading.

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Robert Clark May 3, 2000 at 1:00 am

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This book is a must for anyone visiting the Caribbean! Norman Paperman decides to leave New York to start running a small hotel in the Caribbean. The ideal turns to strife when the layed-back attitude of the Caribbean starts to cause him problems; his bartender runs away, the cistern runs out of water (and then collapses after a heavy rainfall), the chamber maids run away, his builder leaves him half-way through construction of some new rooms, but Norman manages to overcome all these hurdles and more!

The book highlights the attitudes and dificulties of living and working in the tropics; just because you are used to things working in civilisation, doesn’t mean they will work the same way here!

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Ben Johns August 11, 2000 at 7:30 pm

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I, too, read Mr. Buffett’s stage adaptation before seeking out this novel, and have to say I was somewhat dissapointed. The strength of the play had been its rapid pace: the main character, Norman Paperman, spent much of his time spinning in place as things collapsed around him, and the audience was kept on ther toes as situations developed and concluded themselves in rapidity. This very pace is lacking in the novel, however. The story is a simple one: a man from New York buys a tropical resort and desperately tries to keep it under control as one disaster after another occurs around him. But the tale of Mr. Paperman does not warrant the near four hundred pages alloted to it. The story tends to plod along between disasters, which happen so often that the reader soon becomes desensitized to them. At about two hundred pages, my patience for the character’s activities bottomed out, and it was all I could do to finish the novel. The saving grace here is the characters themselves, who, in the odd scene where they’re allowed to actually develop without the intrusion of a flood, water shortage, or car accident, are colorful and entertaining, with dialogue that is often far more clever than the story itself.

That story is one wrought with inconsistencies, and plagued by trivialities. It jumps through some sections too quickly, yet goes into puzzling detail at others. The story seems, at points, more like an anecdote than a novel, with bits left in that don’t advance the plot, but seem to exist for completeness of a historical account. I found myself wondering at times whether some events here did happen, and if not, why did Mr Wauk bother to create them? To top things off, the end is astonishingly abrupt, and seems in a way to offset the very meaning of the rest of the novel. The story screams for a final chapter.

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Don McNair November 17, 2000 at 12:25 am

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Herman Wouk lived in St Thomas back in the 50′s and it is generally believed that Don’t Stop the Carnival was based (in part) on real people who were living on the island at that time. In fact when the novel was published he became a persona non grata in some circles. New arrivals to the Caribbean are always advised to read this book, which provides a most insightful look into how things worked down there – and still do. A very funny yet ultimately sad story, this is a story that is hard to put down.

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Anonymous January 20, 2001 at 6:33 pm

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Totally entertaining for those who listen to and love Jimmy’s CD of the same title. A great book to “lose” yourself in.

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Anonymous February 8, 2001 at 6:04 am

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…to quote the Buffett Musical that popularized the story with many Parrot Heads. A terrific tale that keeps your attention from cover to cover, I read it while in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and it made me reconsider the urge to relocate and become a permanent beach bum! Wouk’s characterization of U.S. culture meeting that of the West Indies was poignant and makes the reader take another look at life in general…

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Anonymous March 21, 2001 at 2:36 pm

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This book was not only entertaining, it teaches many lessons about life that can’t be found in most of today’s novels. I highly recommend this book to anyone searching for an adventure that just can’t afford to drop his or her whole life like Norman did.

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Marty March 25, 2001 at 5:35 pm

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I love this book. This book has a great story on the surface. Also, there are a lot of underlying messages that will be picked up on a closer read. This book shows us that we could live out our “ID” if we wanted. What’s to stop us? I also believe that this book hits the nail on the head as far as descibing islanders. Islanders do not act the same as people who live on the mainland. Mr. Wouk paints a picture so well that I felt I was there at the hotel watching what was going on. I highly recommend this book.

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Charles D Dunaway May 17, 2001 at 9:56 am

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This book has everything. It is full of the hot, crazy island plot that you can only imagine. It is a wonderful story that is very entertaining and really a vividly written book with good character development. It will keep you entertained as well as make you think of buying that Gull Reef Club and try your hand at the islands.

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Richard De Clemente June 1, 2001 at 2:30 am

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My review title (Buffett lyrics) would make you understand why Norman Paperman went and did what many people would like to do. Leave it all for life in St. Somewhere!!! The book was very funny and one you could not put down easily. I hope the play makes it to Broadway with a different ending. A must for Jimmy Buffet fans.

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Matthew C Liuzzi June 27, 2001 at 5:24 pm

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Jimmy Buffett’s CD attracted me to this book. The book is highly entertaining the entire way through-there are no slow parts to be found. Mr. Wouk paints a picture of life on a Carribean island that is funny, amusing and engaging, all the while being completely believable. From the ever-present difficulties at the Club to the host of interesting characters Norman Paperman meets along the way, the story is great. For anyone who has travelled to similar islands or even less developed countries, this story is, in a strange way, very believable. This is certainly required reading for the Beach. But even if you’re just looking for a great novel to transplant you to another world-this is a perfect choice. Anyone who reads this book will find himself, at least once, wishing he were the one running the Gull Reef Club.

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Anonymous July 8, 2001 at 12:01 pm

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I read through a lot of the other reviews posted here before deciding to post my own. For most of the readers who enjoyed Wouk’s portrayal of island time and the incredible-but-realistic workings of Murphy’s Law, I must nod in agreement. I found myself moving up and down with Norman, aggravating as he could be, but enjoying his triumphs and laughing at his downfalls.

In the end, regardless of lessons learned, the characters still seemed somewhat static. Even Norman, for all his experiences that should have led to growth, seemed to have learned nothing. By moving back to New York, he stayed in place. That’s the book’s biggest weakness in my opinion. The rest of it was awesome!

I saw a lot of reviews by folks who had a certain expectation of the book based on Jimmy Buffett’s “recommendation”. To readers coming from this perspective, please bear in mind that Wouk wrote this book a long time before Buffett even picked up a guitar. It is dated, because it should be. It’s an old book. I mean, geez, how many people complain because Twain’s “Following the Equator” is “dated”?

Keep this in mind as you set expectations. Then appreciate the timelessness of the idea even as you enjoy the portrayal of 1959 American expatriate life. All of the things that were happening in the 50s flavor this tale, political, social, and racial. Things were different then, and to judge by modern standards is an injustice to the writer and his work.

Bottom line, I hated for this book to end. For the hours it took me to read it, I was transported to tropical fantasyland…Margaritaville, if you would. I’ve lived in the tropics, and this book put me right back there. When it ended, I was dumped harshly back into the grey California winter.

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Anonymous September 6, 2001 at 12:25 pm

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Herman Woulk’s creation of the island of Amerigo captures the essence of island life very vividly. Mr. Paperman’s experiences are sometimes tragically funny, and the characters that surround him are odd and frustrating and completely bizarre at times. As a resident of the Virgin Islands, I can say that Herman Woulk has painted a very clear picture of what it is to live here, just as perfectly as “A Year in Provence” portrays the people of that region. This book is thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end, but if it makes you itch to pack your bags, read it again! This is like a handbook of what to expect when you arrive, and although some scenes may be very funny, imagine them happening to you!

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lazza September 13, 2001 at 7:27 pm

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“Don’t Stop the Carnival”, a rare comedy by the always talented Herman Wouk, chronicles the travails of a middle-aged Jewish man who wants to start his life afresh as the owner of a hotel on a (ficticious) sleepy West Indies island. Everything seems to go wrong, but eventually through ingenuity and luck (and the “carnival spirit”) all turns out well in the end. Wouk observes the island lifestyle, warts and all, with great accuracy. A very enjoyable read: comedy and pathos are well-blended.

However the book has its quirks. Firstly, it is rather dated. You can tell when he refers to JFK airport as Idlewild airport. Also, Herman Wouk takes great effort to tell the reader that the leading character is Jewish … and is seemingly paranoid about it. While perhaps this is somewhat characteristic of Jewish Americans back then, I suspect this is more of a personal trait of the author being expressed into this character (..Herman Wouk is a noted author on Judaism and Zionism). I found it to be a bit over the top, but not really bothersome.

Bottom line: a well-observed comic novel. And as always, Herman Wouk writes the most readable prose.

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Rick December 16, 2001 at 5:20 pm

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Herman Wouk’s tale of a New Yorker turned Caribbean Inn Keeper has special meaning to me. I was born in NYC and I took a job in the USVI in 1999. Although this story is set almost 50 years ago, not much has changed on the island of St. Thomas! I wish I had read this book BEFORE I moved to “paradise”…

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Akethan March 3, 2002 at 8:11 pm

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I had to keep in mind that this book was copywritten in 1965.

The book had a strong, offensive undertone to it – the constant reference to a person was clearly written. Everyone was simply a person but for those characters that were termed “negro.” There was a banker, a realtor, a lawyer. That was all the reader needed to know. Then there was a negro banker, a negro realtor, a negro lawyer. The constant reminding of which characters were and weren’t was tiresome. Some of the social commentary and the exaggerations of island dialects were also deplorable.

The story followed interesting developments and turns. I spent a short time in the USVI and made friends who have homes in these islands and found much that familiar in this book. So while it is true that island time is different than mainland, that attitudes are different and can be frustrating when you are fresh from a hurry-up-rush-rush-rush environment… it is still a strange book to read and seems to have a definite and antiquated feel to it.

I did take time to look up singing star Maxine Sullivan and order a “greatest hits” CD of her tunes circa 1937. And I am always impressed by Edna St. Vincent Millay whose poetry is quoted within the book…

Worth a read, but keep your perspective firmly in the present.

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Karen Christensen March 10, 2002 at 5:33 am

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Granted, this book may be condescending and dated, but it deals with a dream that is timeless…doesn’t everyone want to “escape” to an island in the Caribbean while only envisioning sun and fun? Well, as Herman Wouk so eloquently points out, paradise sometimes comes with a price. Although the events in this book take place decades ago, the same situations could just as easily occur today. This book made me both laugh and cry. I sometimes feel like I am “Norma” Paperman myself after living down here for almost five years!! In reality, Herman Wouk only stayed here for eight years, but I think I am here for the long term. Only time will tell.

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voracious escapist reader May 16, 2002 at 4:09 am

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This was certainly what the doctor ordered since I just returned from 10 days sailing and diving in the BVI and the sweetness of the tropics was just something I wanted to hold on to and not dissipate upon returning to the Rockies.

Having spent years exploring the Caribbean, particularly the US Virgins, I could not help but laugh at the seemingly improbable but totally believable events and characters that one may easily find there, from escapist ex-patriots to the disappearing Mr. Church-type men to the completely annoying and in this case, deadly custom of stopping cars in the middle of the road to chat up a friend.
I became completely enthralled with this book and had trouble putting it down. During the 5 days in which I read it, I became bedridden with a nasty virus and actually welcomed my time in bed eager to find out what next would happen to Mr. Paperman.
Well-written and quick-reading, I highly recommend this to anyone who has experienced life in our neighboring tropics! But do keep in mind, it was written in the 60′s and has some dated language. But it is a truly enjoyable read!!!!!

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Anonymous July 19, 2002 at 12:35 pm

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I loved this book! It is a very humorous story about a Jewish New Yorker who finds himself running a Caribbean hotel with no experience and no idea of the financial commitment he has made with his partner. Naturally, he meets a cast of eccentric characters on the island (fictionally named Amerigo) and craziness ensues. Although some of the references are dated, it’s a great read and real page-turner.
I highly recommend this book for all Caribbean lovers!

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J. James-williams February 12, 2003 at 6:53 am

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Despite the fact that this book was set in 1960′s Caribbean, its elements are essentially true and startlingly current. I live and work in and around the Caribbean and have read this book at least twice over the years. Have also read it in parts as it suits me or as it suits my mood. It is almost required reading for any expatriate who is lured to the laid back nature of the Caribbean during a vacation trip and who ventures to think that (s)he might like to carve out a piece of it for peaceful retirement and “do some survival business” at the same time. Have often mused that travel planners and agents should offer a copy to those would-be paradise seekers. It’s timeless Caribbean with all of its subtleties and raucousness! Don’t think anyone has done a better job since…except perhaps Margaret Atwood’s Bodily Harm.

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HeyJudy July 16, 2003 at 4:45 pm

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For a book that had its first printing about 40 years ago, DON’T STOP THE CARNIVAL remains both fresh and plausible. The premise of a harried New Yorker dropping out of life in the Big Apple to take up inn-keeping on a tiny Caribbean island is virtually a universal fantasy in Manhattan, where everyone seems to want to do exactly that–if they’re not heading up to the Berkshires instead.

As hilarious as the adventures here are, they never actually cross that fine line into the implausible, quite a balance when writing fiction.

DON’T STOP THE CARNIVAL is a change of pace for Mr. Wouk, who usually writes more serious books. He probably is best known for MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR, but his versatility is evident in works ranging from THE CAINE MUTINY to THIS IS MY GOD, as well as the important Holocaust work, THE WINDS OF WAR and its sequel, WAR AND REMEMBRANCE. It is this versatility, combined with his elegant prose, that makes him my favorite author.

For years now, it’s been rumored that Herman Wouk and Jimmy Buffet are working together on a Broadway musical based on DON’T STOP THE CARNIVAL. Personally, I can’t wait!

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ryan morrison July 17, 2003 at 11:45 am

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Don’t stop the Carnival is a vacation without the travel. Although some of the language is dated, the story is great and the characters seem so real. It really allows the reader to escape their current place and take a trip with Norman to the tropics. Fans of fiction and fun should enjoy this wonderful novel.

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PJY January 31, 2004 at 6:44 am

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Unlike many, I found this book not quite living up to expectations. It’s ongoing comments about coloreds and whites mingling date the material (ok, it was written a while back) and the ending is a bit strange based on the character development and what you assume their interpersonal relationships. It left me not feeling satisfied when I turned the last page. Additionally, I found much of the book predictable. Something bad happens, it gets fixed – Something bad happens, it gets fixed. Over and over until you feel like you could skip a few chapters and not be any worse off. Rather than building on each mishap, they simply repeat. Additionally, the ending simply drops characters. Whatever happened to the pregnant housemaid? Why simply… well I don’t want to ruin it for you if you haven’t read it. Let’s just say the book finds a simple (though trite) solution for getting characters out of the book. And that left me disappointed.

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Greg Railey April 24, 2004 at 9:51 pm

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Outstanding book for any Jimmy Buffet fan or simply a fan of the carribean. Wouk uses his own brand of humor to keep your interest level up through out this book. One of the BEST fictional reads available!

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Donato June 20, 2004 at 10:37 am

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I read this book as a teenager when it first came out in 1965, and then picked up a copy of it a while ago and reread it. Amazing what a few decades can do to one’s perspective. How many mid-life crises have many of us gone through in which we dreamed of leaving big city stress to find the perfect, ideal life in some remote, exotic place? (This book, if you will, turns up the lights at closing time and lets you see what people really look like!) So, Carnival’s Norman Paperman goes though his mid-life fantasy on a Caribbean island, and, predictably, things are not as perfect or as ideal as expected. That’s why this book holds up so well after 40 years: it’s entertaining and has a message. At nearly 400 pages, it moves amazingly fast, thanks to Herman Wouk’s skill as a writer. Definitely worth the time, especially if you harbor any of the main character’s desires for the perfect escape.

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Antoinette Klein July 19, 2004 at 5:37 pm

Rating

You’ll be humming “Carn-nee-val is very sweet, Please don’t stop de Car-nee-Val” as you eagerly read this most enjoyable Herman Wouk novel. The amusing tale of New York public relations man Norman Paperman centers on a universal dream—quitting the rat race, escaping to the sunny Caribbean to loll about in the sunshine amidst scantily-clad beauties, and be the King of one’s own alcohol-induced domain.

Norman is swept into the realization of his mid-life crisis when exuberant Lester Atlas presents him with a fait accompli—money to become an island innkeeper, supervising one of the most charming money-makers on the fictional island of Amerigo. Norman soon discovers being an innkeeper is fraught with peril, but his misadventures will leave you laughing and longing for a quick trip to sunny Paradise.

Many characters propel this book, each charmingly depicted as only a great storyteller like Wouk can. From the reclusive Iris Tramm, to the all-forgiving Henny Paperman and her nubile daughter Hazel, to the outrageous Hippolyte, and most especially the native Kinjans who give this novel a charm most realistic yet alarming, the reader is swept into life on an island paradise that is at once heaven and hell.

Can Norman forget his successful New York career and make the transition to a change in latitude and attitude? Will phrases like “We be jammin’, mon” erase the bitter cold of a New York winter and the thousand indignities a pr man must suffer? Will his penchant for extra-marital affairs be his undoing? Will a long-ago girlfriend’s dark secret shock him? Put on the suntan oil and read while you bake for an experience everyone should have at least once.

By the way, the book is not complete until you also listen to the CD from the musical that Jimmy Buffett and Herman Wouk collaborated on. It may not have been the toast of Broadway but it is the perfect accompaniment to a reading of this book.

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therosen September 11, 2004 at 2:05 pm

Rating

Any book recommended by Jimmy Buffett shouldn’t be bad, should it? The follies of Norman Paperman, a New York PR guy running a hotel and bar in the Carribean, captures the dangers of chasing an obsessive dream. The writing is solid, if stretched, but you find youself hoping everything works out for the best.

The book is at it’s strongest when Wouk describes interpersonal relations. He colorfully describes New York society at it’s finest (at worst) as well as the society life down on the islands. Capturing the protagonist at his failings makes for a deeper novel.

The downside of the book is the extended existance of Murphy’s Law. After the first hundred pages or so, each mistake or folly becomes predictable. In that sense, I really wish the book had been shorter.

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A_2007_reader June 5, 2005 at 11:43 pm

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The book is realistic in describing trying to build a hotel in a third world setting. Author even admits the same in the preface, as the book is based on a composite of real stories.

The book is a snapshot of life in the 1950s/early 60s, when segregation was in full swing in the US. The book does character sketches well and develops themes by suggestion, like a good writer is supposed to, rather than just mechanically describing something.

The book fails miserably in the ending–a completely contrived, “Duex Ex Machina” ending, where characters die or conveniently disappear. Thus the ending a cliche that sours the whole book. Seems like the writer got tired, killed off some characters, and finished. I would have given the book a five but for the ending.

As for humour, it is simply 50s style realism with a sickening sugar coating to make it more easy to swallow. I didn’t think it was all that funny, as the racial typecasting and moral preaching is grating. But it also is consistent with the mindset of the characters, who are essentially hypocritical racists.

Have fun.

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L. Ward February 21, 2006 at 12:04 pm

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A must for anyone who ever even thought of purchasing property out of the US.

Enamored of the bucolic locale and tropical breezes of your island vacation? Read this before you sell your home in the states.

Never dated, even with time lapse from publication, as relevant today as it was then, just more expensive.

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Geoffrey R. Caldwell October 28, 2006 at 8:44 am

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I first read this novel about 35 years ago. Since then I have enjoyably re-read it several times, each time finding something new. It is probably one of the most absorbing tales I have read and helps me enormously to relax and enter into the story. I sometimes ‘feel’ as if I am on the island with the characters! My daughter is reading it now – after badgering her for some years to give it a go. Needless to say she is enjoying it too. Very witty and so very well written.

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Sergio Leone November 6, 2006 at 9:43 am

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I read “Don’t Stop the Carnival” after a short vacation on St. Croix. I could actually visualize the places described as I was reading, and it made the story all the more enjoyable and believable. Wouk’s descriptions of the local inhabitants of “Kinja” was right on the money. I couldn’t help but cringe at some of the situations the main character found himself in. It was a funny page turner with a touch of drama.

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Candy January 5, 2007 at 11:59 am

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If you are looking for an easy, fun quick read this is your book. There were some serious moments, but a great escape book for the beach. I have to admit that I cannot see it as a musical, but with Jimmy Buffett anything can happen.

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Dave E February 2, 2007 at 6:27 pm

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I just read this after a trip to the US Virgin Islands and it certainly helped prolong the vacation for me. Anyone who has ever unsuccessfully tried to superimpose our northern sense of urgency into any minor crisis in the tropics, such as lost luggage, missing captains, etc., can relate to this book. Set in 1959 (and written in ’65 I believe), the book treats such hot topics as inter-racial romances, non-traditional families and ethnic stereotypes with a respect that our society has yet to catch up to, in my opinion.

My only two beefs are 1) at times it was too over-the-top in comic misery – like one of those action scenes that goes on longer than you can even pretend possible, and 2) the very ending is simply out of place and almost a cruel trick – I can’t say any more without revealing it.

Fans of Jimmy Buffett’s novels will see a likely source of inspiration for Jimmy’s writing style in this book.

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L. Peyronnin February 11, 2007 at 8:34 am

Rating

A very funny and entertaining novel. It slightly recalls the above British TV comedy, but with a self-exiled NYC Jewish Theatre man dealing with a new world for him- a fish out of water. He finds himself among other exiles from America and Europe but who seem to float through their lives there while he is buffeted by constant ups and downs. The story has the feel of the late 50s, and does reference ‘the new year’ of 1960 at one point. One of the charaters, Iris Tramm, is a failed Californian movie star who, it is implied, may have been a casualty of the blacklisting craze of the early 50s. If they had ever made a movie of this, she could have been played at one time by Sally Kellerman. The comedy turns to tragedy by the end of the story.

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David A. Bede March 2, 2007 at 2:07 am

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I finally got around to reading this after years of listening to the Jimmy Buffett musical (which, contrary to what some earlier reviewers seem to think, already exists). I therefore already knew how the story ended, but with a hundred or so pages left to go I was involved enough to hope they’d changed it from the book. No dice, unfortunately, but it’s still a far more engaging story than I was expecting.

If you’re wondering – as I was – how a story of a guy who buys a hotel could possibly be entertaining, don’t worry. I don’t know quite how Wouk did it, but he did. The sequence of events sometimes does seem a bit Hollywood-ish, in the sense that you think things can’t possibly get any worse for Norman Paperman and friends, but oh look, they just did. For that matter, they sometimes also get better faster than you’d ever expect in real life. Still, the story does draw you in and make you root for Norman to tough it out regardless of what the island and its cast of loony characters throw at him next. Speaking of which, Wouk is a genius when it comes to original yet strangely convincing characters. Even if the action dragged (which it doesn’t), the book would be a fun read for them alone.

Through it all, you just might find yourself wanting to run off to the tropics and start life over again too. Perhaps unintentionally on Wouk’s part, the Papermans’ lifestyle back in New York comes across as so dreary that it’s easy to believe Norman would rather cope with disaster after disaster than go home! It is, of course, easier to say that when we’re only reading about the big adventure rather than living it. But it does make for a fun read.

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Andrew Jalbert, author of "West Across the Board" July 27, 2007 at 4:20 am

Rating

This is the book for anyone who has considered throwing it all in and running away to the Caribbean. Wouk paints a hilarious picture of a mainlander trying to make it as a resort operator in “paradise.” We soon learn that swaying palms and stunning sunsets aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. Although “Don’t Stop the Carnival” is fiction (right down to the name of island where it takes place) it’s a wonderful behind the scenes look at what could be going on while you’re basking on the beach sipping your rum punch on vacation. I highly recommend this book.

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azkc4me December 26, 2007 at 6:43 am

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Haven’t had a chance to read this book but am anticipating the read. Book presents nicely

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Carol Kasper Winet July 29, 2009 at 1:15 am

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Wouk published this lighter-than-his-usual story more than 40 years ago, but it is not dated. A New York agent, recovering from a heart attack, visits a small (fictional) Caribbean island, is swept away by its beauty and apparent tranquility and buys a resort, to run himself. And then the fun begins. As one might imagine, all kinds of problems with building maintenance and eccentric local help underlie the image of paradise. Wouk is a masterful story-teller, easy to read, and not as superficial as the premise might suggest.

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D. Blankenship August 30, 2009 at 10:33 am

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There are novelists, writers, natural story tellers and alas, people who scribble. Fortunately for us we are blessed with individuals like Herman Wouk who is not only a novelist, but a true story teller who leaves the scribblers to their own little corner of the world. On the other hand, unfortunately for us, we readers tend to have the attention span of ferrets after 10 cups of strong coffee and so many of us leap to the latest and the greatest in the world of publishing, and seemingly forget that which was good several years ago, is still as good and fresh as the date it was written. Don’t Stop the Carnival is one of those works that is becoming lost in the scramble and is being consigned to the bottom shelves of libraries and used book stores, as the literally hundreds of new books are being published each day…what a pity! We need to slow down a bit and give many of these older works a reread now and then. We are missing so much!

Not only is Herman Wouk a good story teller; I was first hooked on his work with The Caine Mutiny and Marjorie Morningstar years ago, but he is also a very funny man, and probably one of the best builders of fictional characters we have been fortunate enough to have had amongst us for the past fifty years or so.

I note in the reviews here that the plot of this story has been done to death and there are quite a number of very nicely done reviews that give us a great overview. Briefly though, we have a rather tired New York PR man who has absolutely had it with his life and does what most of us have wanted to do at some point in our lives; some of us have had several of these episodes, and at the same time is going through major big time midlife crises. He does what many dream of and few actually do…he packs up and heads for the Islands! Always keep in mind that Norman Paperman, or antagonist, is a very, very flawed man! I ask though, who of us in not?

Through an odd set of circumstances, Norman Paperman ends up running a hotel on the island of Amerigo (a fictional island) in the West Indies. Sounds like the novels we read where a rich Englishman dumps it all for a hotel or home in Tuscany doesn’t it? Well, Wouk is not only a great writer, but he is also a very, very funny man and if you couple this with his sheer genius for character development, you have a very potent combination of a wonderful read. This work is simply dripping with realistic, funny and quirky individuals who make up a rather unique island society…we get a glimpse of the good, the bad and the ugly but for the most part all hilarious.

Now the reader or potential reader needs to keep a couple of things in mind when picking this work from the shelf. First is that the setting is in the very late 1950s and very early 1960s. Indeed much has changed since then. We as a people have done our best to muck about a mess things up; but to state that this book is invalid due to being “dated” boarders on ludicrous. That is like saying that Pride and Prejudice, Emma and books of that time and ilk are no longer valid because they are “dated.” Give me a break! Secondly, the silly claim that the book contains a note of racism is equally ridiculous. We in this country tend to take great offense if an author portrays our region as being anything but East Coast or West Coast sophisticated urban. Silly, silly, silly. Most of use to not have the accents of the talking heads we see on T.V. each night on the evening news (boring, boring, boring) and the majority of us have certain regional traits, ideas and beliefs. This is a good thing. I live in the hills of the Missouri Ozarks. For me to run around an pretend that I have the same attitude, social background and outlook on life as some upper crust Bostonian is simply unrealistic and not being true to what I am…for better or for worse. Also, keep in mind that this is a FICTIONAL WORK, and not a study of indigenous people and non-indigenous tourists, scallywags abound, loveable and unlovable people inhabit this story and are mixed together in a fictional setting.

Enough editorializing…

This is one fine read. Wouk is able to pull off what many writers simply would be unable to make believable. Just when you think that things could not get worse and cannot figure out how the author could possible make it worse or funnier, Wouk does and does it with class. It is funny, has great characters and will keep you turning pages way past the time when you should be in bed sleeping; for the most part chuckling while doing so. Like many, I was not overly fond of the ending, but hey, it was not my book and if I want a book with an ending I personally want, then I figure I should go out and write my own book.

For a entertaining read, I can hardly name a better work nor can I name a better work that will stick with you for quite some time after its completion.

Don Blankenship

The Ozarks

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Robert Edgley October 26, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Rating

Very entertaining and humorous book. Provides real insight into the lifestyle and psychology of the black Caribbean islanders.

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Wendy November 11, 2009 at 6:54 am

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I read this book when I was a teenager in the late 60s and really loved it. My mother bought it from the Doubleday Book Club for $1.00. I kept the book on my bookshelf until recently when I went on a trip to New York and then to the Caribbean. I don’t remember any of the book because it was so long ago that I originally read it. It was fun going from New York and then on to a cruise in the Caribbean while reading this story. Herman Wouk is a wonderful storyteller. I read the Winds of War years ago and loved that too. But for an entirely different “flavor” please read this book. Then buy Jimmy Buffett’s musical, Don’t Stop the Carnival. It’s quite wonderful too!

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Sharon A. Alvarado December 15, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Rating

I loved this book. I have read a few of Herman Wouk’s books and enjoyed his style in each of them. I originally purchased Jimmy Buffett’s Don’t Stop the Carnival, which is how I learned about this book. I had not seen it or heard of it before. I couldn’t find the book here in my area so I ordered it from Amazon. It was great, very funny and had many twists with a touch of mystery to keep you hooked. You can see yourself getting into some the same fixes Norman Paperman stumbles into. This book is a very fun read and I highly recommend it to anyone that needs a good laugh.

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Tyler Forge January 6, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Rating

Some of the other reviews give a synopsis, so I won’t repeat that effort. I read this book during and around some south Florida vacationing and enjoyed it (the book AND the vacations) immensely. The story is good, the writing is tight and engrossing.

In a nutshell. I have Island fever and a friend recommended that I read this book before I did anything crazy. It helped with the fever, I guess. The book made very clear that the … professionalism and … “sense of urgency”, yes, those are the right words, of workmen in the islands ain’t all that. So, any plans to buy some dirt and have a home built should be approached with great caution.

A real telling point was when Atlas called the banker (I think those are the right folks) a “croupier” because people come to the island, build for a while, go broke, and go away. The bank ends up owning the partially built homesteads and then spins ‘em out to the next influx of investors. I must be careful.

As I reflect back on the story, I think that I, like Norman Paperman, am wound a little to tightly for more than island vacations.

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Ken Douglas April 9, 2010 at 9:18 am

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I read DON’T STOP THE CARNIVAL a long time ago, right after Vesta and I sailed into the Caribbean, where we lived for several years, sailing between St. Martin in the North and Venezuela in the South. This book seemed to be a must read for cruising sailors (people who live on sailboats). At least once every other month Vesta and I were somehow roped into a discussion or an argument about Mr. Paperman in a sailor’s bar somewhere about just what island Mr. Wouk was writing about when he created the fictional place called Amerigo. Trinidad was my pick, Vesta liked Grenada, St. Lucia was a favorite among many cruisers as was Dominica. I never, in all the time I lived on a boat in the Caribbean, met anyone who did not love this book, who did not think that Herman Wouk was dead on accurate in his portrayal of the island life or the island people.

Norman Paperman quits his PR job in New York and buys a hotel on the island of Amerigo in the West Indies. This was supposed to be an easier, more laid lifestyle. However, as poor Norman soon learns, things are done differently in the islands and they are done in Island Time. They have a saying in the Trinidad that goes something like this, “In America they live to work, in Trinidad we work to live.” A job is what you do to pay the rent, put food on the table, buy rum, maybe ganja if you’re into that, pay for a night out, the movies, a car. And that pretty much sums up how many Islanders think. You are not, as you are in America, defined by what you do for money and what you do for money isn’t taken very seriously, so, as Norman finds out, if someone says they are going to show up at your hotel and fix something at 9:00, don’t be too upset if you don’t see him till noon, or maybe not till the next day.

Mr. Wouk has delivered a funny story here and if you are thinking about a Caribbean vacation, a must read book. You can hear the pan music, feel the hot breeze as you look over the cool blue Caribbean Sea while you page through this magnificent book. I can’t say enough good about DON’T STOP THE CARNIVAL.

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Adam Beck June 7, 2010 at 10:04 am

Rating

Even at 400 pages, I was still sorry when this one ended. It moves along swiftly from one incident to the next with a wonderful flow. It’s stuffed with memorable scenes and characters. Yes, Norman has a rough time of it, but there’s enough success and triumph over the odds that it stays fun. The finale brings several plot threads together, then adds a couple of surprises. (It was surprising to me, anyway.) The only jarring notes were pretty casual strains of homophobia and racism, but that’s probably more a by-product of its time and setting than anything else.

Certainly worthwhile.

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Kelly July 29, 2010 at 11:19 pm

This book is really great. I read it right before I booked my vacation and this book is all I could think about. We ended up in Jamaica!

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