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Playing with Water: Passion and Solitude on a Philippine Island (Twentieth Century Lives)

Playing with Water: Passion and Solitude on a Philippine Island (Twentieth Century Lives) [Kindle Edition]

James Hamilton-Paterson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description


...a work of such genuine commitment, balanced perception and responsive passion that it will certainly be condemned to become a classic. The New York Times A classic travel book...entirely original: at once astringently and gorgeously written... Andrew Harvey Unforgetable. The Philippine landscape and these remote islanders are crystalline and at the same time mysterious; the writing itself supurb. Ronald Blythe

Product Description

James Hamilton-Paterson spends a third of each year on an otherwise uninhabited Philippine island, spear-fishing for survival. Playing with Water tells us why he does. Beyond that, it gives an account of life in that class-bound country as a whole. For it is in places like this rather than Manila of the international news reports that the underlying political and cultural reality of the Philippines may be seen.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 887 KB
  • Print Length: 299 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B001379U82
  • Publisher: New Amsterdam Books (10 Aug 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #453,776 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a little known work of art 9 Mar 2007
This is a beautifully written story; Hamilton-Paterson writes about the complexities of the supposedly simple paradise of a tropical island, bringing the environment above and below the water, and the characters and character, of The Philippines to life.

Alongside the salt encrusted humidity of his tropical life, we learn about New Elizabethan England; finding ourselves in tunnels at school, blowing up water butts and recalling some of the moments in childhood that become so important in later life.

A great introduction to Hamilton-Paterson's wonderful writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Float, float on 23 Feb 2010
Which is the real world? Is it above or under the water? With home-made spear gun the author feeds himself while exploring among the corals off of the Philippine island where he lives alone. He describes the rhythms of the sea and of the fishing village life across on the mainland.

Memorably the colourful undersea world is mirrored in the New Year's sky with a typical Filipino cacophony of rockets and home-made fireworks over his usually peaceful island. We learn too of the practical use of explosives, with discussions of the hard economics (and expertise) of dynamite fishing. Normally though the tropical island lifestyle is meditative, and the author reflects on his parents and schooldays. There is however a contrasting aside on clamorous Manila.

The author rigs a swing from a tree branch overhanging a cliff edge, and likes to swing out over the water. The reader too gets that weightless feeling of aquatic pursuits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant memoir 29 Aug 2011
By Deb
James Hamilton-Paterson is such a varied writer, but always surprising, literate, passionate, reflective. I absolutely adored this memoir of his time spent in 2 locations in the Phillipines - one in the forest beyond a remote poor village, the other on an otherwise uninhabited island where he supported himself by spear-fishing. Solitude and community.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
If you're inspired to go to tropical places after watching "The Beach", then this story might make you think again! It's full of the complex struggle to survive on a tropical island and reveals some of the home-sickness you might expect when so far from everything you know best. The author's spirit of adventure and survival is both realistic and at times esoteric. It shows how thoroughly inventive you need to be and also goes back in time to an interesting middle-class upbringing in 1950's London. Altogether a very interesting and enjoyable account.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paterson shares his insights about diving for a living 12 July 1998
By - Published on
Paterson is living on a small island in the Philippines and he is joining the natives in diving (i.e. fishing) for a living. We scuba-divers, as we only come for 1-2 week vacations, often are not experiencing the reality around our dive sites. Paterson's book was helping me understanding more of the countries I was visiting. Very instructive are his personal insights about ecology in a third world country and the connections to the economical and social structure. I found it very valuable that the insights do not follow the well known beaten paths about the third world but are rather well founded, personal observations. This makes this book a much more interesting read than any other book about the subject that I have ever read before.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go's good! 21 Sep 2002
By A. N. Teodoro III - Published on
i read this book so many years ago, but i can still remember
how good it is. this book is not only about the underwater
world but also about the goings-on in a typical barrio in
the philippines. it has a socio-economic aspect to it that i
found quite realistic, having been born and raised in that very
same third world country. it amazed and pleased me that a
foreigner like hamilton-paterson could, quite accurately, capture
the very essence of filipino rural society---like the old woman who
he suspects isnt so aloof and taciturn as she seems
and the children of the barrio who frolick in the water and
in their humble amusements, oblivious of the shortcomings of a
third world upbringing. the book is an unusual stew of underwater
adventure and an unpatronizing account of a life among barrio folk.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Hamilton-Paterson 11 Feb 2012
By Dan Sanley - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
James Hamilton-Paterson is a very intelligent author and forces me to break out my dictionary every now and then, yet this book is about a very simple adventure. It is an experience we only dream of doing since it is impractical for most. Since we cannot take on an adventure like this on our own, we can at least read about the experience here. It is an account of living alone on an uninhabited island in the Philippines. There is contact with the locals on the mainland, which makes the book all the more enjoyable, because of the unique personality of the Philippine people. You will feel as if you are there as this is no imaginary experience, but very real one, right down to every beautiful detail.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get lost to be found 25 Feb 2012
By Jejujohnny - Published on
This is a great book about about personal introspection and, I would say, coming to terms with being a solitary person. I loved this book and his real attempt to understand the culture and motivations of the people in rural Philippines. It is a great read.
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