Lost Among the Baining: Adventure, Marriage, and Other Fieldwork

In this wry travel memoir, a fiasco of an anthropological field trip leaves the writer and her husband haunted by the Baining of New Guinea, a people who upend Western theories as well as the couple's young lives. Years later, they return to the jungle to make peace with this very different culture and their youthful past. More

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About Gail Pool

After many years in literary journalism, I began to write books—very slowly! I am definitely not a prolific writer, and I can’t say that I have a “brand"--each of my four books is very different from the others.

My most recently published work is "Lost Among the Baining: Adventure, Marriage, and Other Fieldwork," and though I never thought I’d write a memoir, it is very much a memoir. It’s also a travel book, and a love story.

The book looks back with wry humor on two life-changing journeys to Papua New Guinea. The first, a field trip I took with my husband to live with the Baining people, was a fiasco that haunted us for years. The second, our redemptive return to the Baining forty years on, gave our story a whole new ending. Reviewers have called the book "provocative," "inspiring," "compulsively readable," and "laugh-out-loud funny."

My previous book, "Faint Praise: The Plight of Book Reviewing in America," offers a (very) critical analysis of the field.
For anyone who wants to know about professional book reviewing—which books get chosen for review, who gets chosen to review them, what frames their reviews—this is an insider’s take on a slippery subject. Reviewers called it "crisp," "intelligent," "thoughtful," and "mandatory reading."

My other two books are "Other People’s Mail: An Anthology of Letter Stories," a collection of short fiction in the form of letters that was a labor of love, and "An Anorexic’s Alphabet," which I've just finished, a graphic chapbook that takes readers into the obsessive world of the anorexic.

I was born in New York City, I attended Little Red School House and Hunter College High School, and I concentrated in Classics at Harvard. I now live with my husband in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in Sanibel, Florida, where--when I'm not writing--I spend my time reading, gardening, and observing the magnificent wildlife.

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