Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday Memes: The Lost Tribe of Coney Island

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where you can share the first paragraph, or a few, of a book you are reading or thinking about reading soon.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Readers of Erik Larson will love this tale of sex, greed, and the American dream: A huckster imports a tribe of Filipinos to Coney Island’s Luna Park, and two cultures collide.

The Lost Tribe of Coney Island unearths the forgotten story of the Igorrotes, a group of “headhunting, dog-eating savages” from the Philippines, who were transported to New York in 1905 to appear as “human exhibits” alongside the freaks and curiosities at Coney Island’s Luna Park. Millions of fair-goers delighted in their tribal dances and rituals, near-nudity, tattoos, and stories of headhunting.

Journalist Claire Prentice, who has spent years researching the topic, brings the story to life with her fluid prose and vivid descriptions. The book boasts a colorful cast of characters, including the disgraced lieutenant turned huckster Truman K. Hunt; his Filipino interpreter, Julio Balinag; the theme park impresarios behind Luna Park, Fred Thompson and Elmer “Skip” Dundy; and Dogmena, a beautiful girl who became a favorite with New York’s social elite. The Lost Tribe of Coney Island  is a fascinating social history and a tale of adventure, culture-clash, and the American dream.

Opening Paragraph

  It was late in the evening when Dr. Truman Knight Hunt wrote the final name in the ledger. His body felt stiff as he eased himself out of his chair and stepped outside into the town — if a ramshackle collection of small, squat huts with dirt floors and thatched roofs could be called a town. There were not roads. In the distance he could make out the tribes rice terraces, which clung precariously to the surrounding mountainsides. Truman breathed in the night air. He felt as if he had met every Igarrote tribesman, woman, and child in the Phillipine Islands that day. A hopeful crowd was still waiting to be seen, little flickers of red glowing in the fading light as sucked on their pipes, sending puffs of smoke into the still air. Children had dozed off in their parents’ arms. A mangy-looking dog looked up and growled at the American stranger in a false show of strength. Truman picked up a stone and hurled it at the dog, which ran to take shelter behind a group of boys.

My Teaser

    The tribe prided themselves on the fact they were largely self-sufficient in their native environment. They were strong headhunters, free to roam as they pleased and physically fit and active.
page 85

(These quotes are from uncorrected advance proofs. Please refer to the final printed book for corrected quotes!)

So...what do you think? Is this one you would pick up? Leave a comment below!
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  1. This definitely looks like an interesting read, and I'll bet the snapshot of early Coney Island is fascinating. Nice one!

  2. You had me at "fans of Erik Larson"...I love his stuff and this sounds very Devil in the White city-ish...

  3. I'm a fan of Erik Larson, but have not heard of this book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

  4. This book is new to me, and since I enjoyed Larson's Devil in the White City, I'm putting this one on my wish list.

    Thanks for sharing it and for visiting my blog.

  5. I love the title of this one, and the teaser was pretty interesting!
    Check out my Teaser

  6. I am intrigued...I am not sure that I would have picked up this book, but you have definitely aroused my curiosity. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

  7. This sounds fascinating! I have yet to read one of Larson's books, but I've got a couple of his on my TBR shelf patiently waiting their turn.

  8. I have only read Devil in the White City, but I would give this one a try too. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I have not heard of Claire Prentice, but I do love historical fiction, I'm going to look into this one! Thanks for sharing :)

    Son of No One | Sherrilyn Kenyon

  10. I enjoyed Devil in the White City and Isaac's Storm, so if this book is truly similar to those, I'd enjoy it. The author definitely does a good job of setting the scene in the opening.
    Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog.
    Sandy @ Texas Twang

  11. I'm not sure what's wrong, but the opening paragraph didn't grab me. I think I need to investigate this author. Thanks for sharing.

  12. I do enjoy Larson so maybe I should check this one out. Thanks for stopping by my post today.

  13. Wow, Kim -- great intro, and a "new to me book" thank you for sharing.

  14. Interesting story line, I'd have to read a bit more before deciding. Have a nice week! kelley—the road goes ever ever on

  15. Like Kelley, I'd have to read more. I like the cover, though.

    Thanks for stopping by Write Note Reviews.

  16. I love the cover of this book. There's just something classic on it. Thanks for sharing, Kim! :)