All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

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Happy reading!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Don't Stop the Carnival, by Herman Wouk

When Norman Paperman reads a sale advertisement for a tropical resort hotel in the New Yorker, the lure of leaving the city life for paradise was too strong to resist. Paperman’s doctor had just handed him a list of activities he should cease and desist immediately to prevent a fatal heart attack, and a tropical resort seems like the best prescription for his ailments. After a brief but alarming negotiation (in which he finds himself indebted not to his friend and financier Lester Atlas but to the previous owner through the local bank), Paperman immediately assumes host duties and everything that entails.

Norman Paperman has no experience as a hotelier. As a New York City press agent, he has no experience in management of any kind. And, he has no idea what to expect doing business in the Caribbean. Things quickly go from bad to worse, when the hotel manager, Thor, absconds with the previous hotel owner as her new yacht’s captain. When he attempts to promote one of his native workers from boatsman to bartender, he discovers there are regulations and politics which govern how he can assign his workers. Things become more complicated when he learns that those who have the support of the current political structure are more likely to get things done, and he has no idea who might be in the support of the governor or the ruling party.

The Gull Reef Club, Paperman’s hotel, has a series of structural disasters, including the failure of the water system which leaves the hotel toilets unable to flush, an unfinished remodeling project, and a machete-wielding contractor who is on the lam. Figure in a fading movie star with a drinking problem and a number of colorful island characters, and you have a rollicking novel that is cringingly funny, sweet, and sad all at the same time.

Don’t Stop the Carnival was originally published in 1965 by Doubleday, so readers should anticipate that references to race, religion or socio-economic class are dated. Wouk is the author of The Winds of War, War and Remembrance, and The Caine Mutiny, among other novels.

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