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The Khao San Road, Bangkok -- first stop for the hordes of rootless young Westerners traveling in Southeast Asia. On Richard's first night there, in a low-budget guest house, a fellow traveler slashes his wrists, bequeathing to Richard a meticulously drawn map to "the Beach."
The Beach, as Richard has come to learn, is the subject of a legend among young travelers in Asia: a lagoon hidden from the sea, with white sand and coral gardens, freshwater falls surrounded by jungle, plants untouched for a thousand years. There, it is rumored, a carefully selected international few have settled in a communal Eden.
Haunted by the figure of Mr. Duck -- the name by which the Thai police have identified the dead man -- and his own obsession with Vietnam movies, Richard sets off with a young French couple to an island hidden away in an archipelago forbidden to tourists. They discover the Beach, and it is as beautiful and idyllic as it is reputed to be. Yet over time it becomes clear that Beach culture, as Richard calls it, has troubling, even deadly, undercurrents.
Spellbinding and hallucinogenic, The Beach by Alex Garland -- both a national bestseller and his debut -- is a highly accomplished and suspenseful novel that fixates on a generation in their twenties, who, burdened with the legacy of the preceding generation and saturated by popular culture, long for an unruined landscape, but find it difficult to experience the world firsthand.
a reason I couldn't fathom, she wrapped around her neck like a scarf. It was a surreal sight, and it made me smile, until I remembered I should be scowling. I was mildly put out that the rafters didn't make the same mistake as I had with Étienne and Françoise — walking to each end of the arrival beach before realizing that the only way to get around the island was to go across it. But this was more than compensated by another, far more serious, mistake they made. Actually, I knew they were
getting away!" A few seconds later he'd reached the pass. In the baffled quiet that followed we listened to him crashing through the undergrowth, and then the silence was complete. "Fuck!" I shouted, sinking to my knees, and started banging my fist on the ground. A light hand touched my shoulder. I looked round to see Françoise leaning over me, and behind her a semicircle of curious people. "Richard?" she said anxiously. Another hand, Jesse's, reached under my arms and hauled me up. "You OK,
carpentry tools. I also found it strange that the camp was so deserted. It apparently supported a large number of people, and a couple of times I thought I heard voices near by, but no one ever appeared. After a while, the quietness and occasional distant voices began to get to me. At first I just felt a little lonely and sorry for myself. I didn't think Sal should have left me on my own, especially when I was ill and new to the camp. And Étienne and Françoise were supposed to be my friends.
can start it. I've been on this kind of boat loads of times." Jed looked doubtful but gestured for me to give it a try. I crawled into the boat and slid down to the stern end, and to my great delight I recognized the engine type. It was started like a lawnmower, by winding a rope around a flywheel and giving it a hard tug. A closer look revealed a knot at one end of the rope and a groove in the wheel for it to fit into. "I've tried that fifty times," Jed muttered, as I put the knot in place.
Bugs or passing Sal. Not really options at all. I sighed. Getting from one side of the clearing to the other had become like an eye-contact obstacle course. It was true that the shark attack had distracted attention away from the flare-up in the longhouse, but although an unspoken truce had been agreed, the tensions behind the incident were still there. Tactically, I had to hand it to Bugs. His group — basically the carpenters and Jean's gardeners minus Cassie and Jesse — had taken over the