‘Gallivanting on Guam’ is a memoir written by Dave Slagle. It recounts the time he spent on the island working as a gym manager.
After suddenly losing his job in Hawaii, Dave needs to find another source of income. While pondering his future, he is approached by a wealthy businessman from Guam who makes him an offer that simply cannot be refused. Mr Saru’s promises sound too good to be true and Dave has his doubts. Nevertheless, he decides to take the risk. Shortly afterwards, he is appointed the general manager of Tropics Gym.
After landing on the tiny island, Dave finds himself in an unfamiliar world. Everything seems to be surreal: people, places, customs and traditions. Dave quickly realizes that the only way to go is to adapt to the new surroundings. And this is exactly what he does. Along with his friends, he explores various ‘buy-me-drinky bars’, flirts with local women, and devotes himself to the pleasures of life. Unfortunately, this blissful state comes to an end when Dave is drawn into a bitter dispute with his corrupt boss.
Enjoyable? Yes. Amusing? Absolutely. Insightful? More than you would think. Actually, it is a cleverly constructed page-turner; something you won’t be able to put down.
The story of Dave’s two-year-long sojourn is extremely compelling. His adventures in a foreign land, which range from happy to tragic, will give you a rare and fascinating glimpse into the life on Guam. Of course, everything the author describes is shown from his point of view, and it can be felt that some of the opinions he shares are heavily influenced by values and standards of his own culture. Is that wrong? It certainly isn’t. But you should keep it in mind while reading this memoir. If you don’t, you may get the impression that his portrayal of both Chamorro people and the island itself is grossly inaccurate at times.
Speaking of which, the abundance of cultural and historical information is just outstanding. Despite what you might think, Dave Slagle doesn’t focus entirely on karaoke bars, although this is a prominent subject, I admit. The pages of his book are filled with immensely interesting facts concerning local customs, traditions, beliefs, and widely accepted social norms. He also makes some observations about people’s habits and daily routines, which may be quite surprising, not to say shocking.
The account is written with a great sense of humour. Even the ‘darker parts’ are pretty jocular, so there’s little chance you will not have a laugh or two during your reading sessions. But – there is always a ‘but’ in this imperfect world – it contains a tremendous number of swear words. I can only assume that the author chose to use such strong language in order to sound authentic. However, I do not think it was really needed.
On a related note, I also have to mention editorial errors. The book is infested with grammatical mistakes, which are genuinely disturbing. Taking into account that this is a published work, such carelessness is unjustifiable. Some proofreading would be a true blessing here.
All in all, I would recommend this memoir to anyone who’d like to read a funny, provocative, interesting story. Dave Slagle is, without a doubt, a very talented writer and this is why you should give ‘Gallivanting on Guam’ a try.