Friday, February 27, 2009


The George Bush Hangover

Are you having one? Because I am having one.

Forgive me for being vague, but quite honestly, the bad news just does not seem to stop for my friends. Relationships keep falling apart. The center isn't holding. Arguments. Job loss. Etc. I know that the bad economic news--which seems to know no end--creates for bad vibes and that the more sensitive falter under those circumstances.

I was trying to think back to the 70s to remember if I had an awareness of troubled times. I suppose I recall some tension for my parents, but little of it really transferred to me. I remember one gas line, and cars honking when drivers weren't going to be able to fill their tanks after all. It was an out of body thing--seeing adults so worked up about things that had little impact on me. Like, "Why are you guys so upset when my imaginary world is so vibrant?" The arrogance of childhood.

Are you having bad news? I always laugh when people who believe in astrology attribute bad news to the fact that Mercury is in retrograde. I don't believe in Mercury after all. But I did wonder, earlier this year, if Mercury going out of retrograde might lessen the bad news. It hasn't.

And how about you?


Eighteen Year Old Journals

It seems grandiose, now, for a 12 year old to think that a series of journals she started keeping during childhood would contain some answers. Every now and then when I am home, and feeling lost, I take a peek. Today I found instructions I wrote to my older self: "I am writing this so you will not forget what it was like to be my age, and so you'll always see who you are."

Here's a snippet of a conversation I recorded with a friend, 18 years ago.

Me: "So, how come no one from high school ever calls me?"

My friend: "Because they think you are strange. And you are too honest."

And, really, nothing has changed.


The Marijuana Question

Your answers to my question.

"Definitely marijuana leaves, could be male or female."

"I read your blog--I think that is marijuana, too."

"I went to click on the picture on your blog to see if they were pot leaves, and then I realized I had absolutely no idea what pot leaves look like. I'd be the guy buying a bag of oregano...."

"If anything it looks to me like male (non-female ergo non-budded) plants."

Edited to add: An "expert" from Twitter has identified the leaves as marijuana. And, yes, I left the pile where I found it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Foraging and Is This Marijuana?

Is this marijuana? I don't really know. I'd be curious to find out.

See, I took some time away from paper-work hell to go forage for wild ferns and other tasty shoots.

And as I was peering over the edge of a riverbank, I saw these clippings. I was confused. Why were plant clippings just tossed over the side of the road? Why weren't they in a trash can? What were they doing here? And then I thought: "Oh. This might be marijuana leaves." But why on earth were they just sitting there?

I asked a friend who would know. He said that if anything, these leaves were "male" and had no "buds." Harvesting marijuana is apparently labor intensive. You don't just get to grow a plant and then smoke it. Only the female part is remotely useful. The men? They are thrown over the edge of a riverbank. I find this sort of fascinating. (You can click on the photo to get a larger version, and then perhaps you can tell me if these are marijuana leaves. You can do so anonymously. It's okay. I'm just insanely curious at this point).

Later, after I'd abandoned the strange pile of clippings, I ran into these two hippies who asked if I was "tripping on shrooms." And I explained that I was foraging for ferns. And then I think they felt a little bad, and one of them said, "I didn't meaning tripping like tripping." And I said, "Oh. That's okay. I'm leaving the shrooms for you." And they said, "We're too scared to forage for mushrooms." And I pointed to my Mom and said, "Well, she's the pro." (And my mother was ignoring all of us, and just was busily inspecting weeds.) And then they sort of warmed up again and whispered something to me about a house up the road at the corner, and I think they were telling me where to buy weed. And I smiled and said thank you. And then they got all curious about where I was from, and I got all vague. And then they wanted to flirt and I was unhappy and the whole thing ended.

And I could go back to my ferns and shoots and my foraging.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Facebook, You Censor Me?

So, while venting on Facebook today about how much I hate having to wade through tax documents and relive in detail how my father died and how I got to spend every day thereafter parting with money, I admit I used a couple of swear words. But I was venting.

And when I went back an hour or two, my status had been wiped clean. In frustration, I typed in a new status update that said something like: "Does Facebook censor status updates which include profanity?" And fifteen minutes later, this was gone too!

So far, my status update in which the word "profanity" appears in quotation marks, has lasted for a full thirty minutes. But, given the Facebook ruckus lately, I'm peeved that I'm not allowed to swear in my status update.


Last Days in Documents (Estate Taxes)

For everyone out there preparing an estate tax return, let us commiserate together.

I'm not sure that anything can spark fresh pain like taxes. I mean, taxes are a pain enough as it is, but the anal side of me sort of likes the year end tabulation of what I did and how I did it and how much it all cost. An estate return is a different mater. For here I am, tabulating just how much each attorney has cost me. I learned today, for example, that one attorney (whom I have since fired) charged me $50 for the phone call in which I called to let him know my father had passed away. That was $50 for him to be in shock, for me to calm him down and to give as many details as I could before getting sick and upset and needing to hang up. He charged me $250 for the house call he paid in his SUV and suit, while he walked around the premises and gave my mother her condolences.

Wait. Let that sink in. He charged ME fifty dollars to absorb the shock of learning that my father had died. I had to pay HIM money for him to "work" on the phone to learn that my Dad was dead. I call that greed.

For you see, even in the midst of grieving, we sad, sad people are just a way to make the predators money. This I have learned.

All day long, I'm sifting, sifting, arranging documents. There's the bill for the car I rented from SF to Monterey, on the desperate day I tried to get here to say goodbye to my father in person. The woman behind the United ticket counter wouldn't change my ticket to allow me to ditch the last leg of my flight so I could rent a car, and I told her I would happily get down on my knees in the middle of the airport to beg her to help me. Grief and shock have no pride. How did I make that drive? And here are the repeated photocopying bills for the copies I made of the unwieldy trust which I sent attorneys and bankers. There is the packet I had to send to Mesa, Arizona when a banker called and barked to me that my father's death meant we had to reconfigure the mortgage on a business property. Well, okay. But was the barking necessary?

I found a receipt for 40 thank you cards, when I wrote--numbly--to thank people for their sympathy. And then there was the receipt for the stamps.

And who can forget these documents? Six pages of unending medical procedures intended to keep my father "alive," for a total of over $80,000. Thank God he had Medi-Care.

There are more bills and documents from different, highly unpleasant phases of last summer, with characters I can't go into on a blog post. But I get to revisit the sting of it all, while sorting, arranging by date and by amount. It's a certain kind of adulthood, I think, that makes it possible for any of us to do this tedious, depressing, anti-scrapbook-keeping work. Please, God (though I don't believe in you), make me numb tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Begin Again

So, here we are again. At the start of a novel.

At the end of last year, I was lucky enough to have dinner with a writer whose work I particularly admire. He was extremely kind to me, and his advice basically boiled down to one thing: "Start the next book." I asked him about degrees and teaching and part time jobs to break up the loneliness and he basically brushed off my questions and said: "Start the next book."

So I did. It's a strange thing. I've been here before. I last had this feeling when I switched from writing and publishing short stories to really tackling my novel. I was pretty terrified. I had gotten into the groove of writing stories that I knew would get accepted. I'd even (ssh, don't tell) gotten to the point where I would have double and triple acceptances, and had started to change my submission policy so I wouldn't have the embarrassing problem of needing to pull a story from a magazine I admired, without a second piece to offer in exchange. The only explanation, dear editors, that I have for my behavior is that it never really occurred to me that I would ever become a person who had multiple acceptances. For someone who is essentially an optimist, I can have a pessimistic streak dictated by my own insecurity. I think all writers are like this.

So, on to the first novel. I'd grown so accustomed to thinking in 5 to 6 thousand word chunks, I had difficulty adjusting to the room that a novel requires--though if I'm honest, that particular mental prison only lasted for a couple of months, though I do notice that my chapters each ended up being around the same length as my average short story.

I think the moment at which the novel really fell into place for me--aside from the wonderful read and editing I had from my editor--was when I had a very clear sense of all my characters, and how they felt and how they were inter-related and what they thought about each other. It really is as they say: character is more important than plot. This is because people cause things to happen most of the time. I remember doing a little chart, sketching out people's names and who was related to whom and who hated who and why. Then the whole thing was sort of contained in my brain.

I'm too embarrassed to show you what that chart looks like. For starters, it will make sense to no one but me, and my handwriting has degenerated so much over the past couple of decades, I could give a physician writing out a prescription a run for his money. But, for fun, above is an example of the kind of chart I mean. It comes from a Japanese television drama--Japanese TV shows regularly include these little maps as part of their promotion. And really, it is a handy way to think of stories--emphasizing the characters and what they do. For me, this is the last thing that comes to me. My friends will tell you how much I love to write description and set a mood and make a physical place come to life. People are much more difficult (this is because people are much more difficult).

I've been wondering what I would want to change about my process this time and what I could do to work a bit smarter. I decided that I wouldn't write until I had something like my old chart all squared away. I would dispense with a neat outline--which I'd tried and failed to use before--and stick with something more conceptual. Again, I wanted to know who loved who, and who was jealous and who was obsessed and who was grieving and where they all were and what the atmosphere was like and so on. And now that I have all that information, there's nothing really to stop me from getting started. So, here I go.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


So Much Jazz

(Warning: Very tired, and much wine, so please forgive rambling post below).

We were invited by friend Mary Ann to hear a young trumpet player play some tunes from his new album at Dizzy's. Chris Botti, whatever. This young player, Dominic Farinacci has a beautiful sound, incredible command and great sensitivity. I would happily listen to him ten times over any Chris Botti recording. Bob Belden wanderred by and asked if I was my friend Laurence's wife; I responded that I was simply on loan. There was Randy Brecker in the audience, there until the very end, supporting the talents of this young player. Wynton was floating around at one point. Joe Locke, who was in the second jazz gig I ever went to see in New York, was his usual dramatic, sensitive and nearly spastic self. He clearly loves Dom's music. And so too did the guest known as "Fish." That would be Fishburne. You can figure out his first name.

Here's a photo of friend Laurence, Gene Bertoncini, who we spent a little time with after the gig, and whose March 25th performance we promised to attend at the Jazz Standard.

A rather blurry photo of Gordon and Gene walking down the street. Gordon was very annoyed I took this photo.

Earlier in the week, for Valentine's Day, we skipped over to the Highline Ballroom to hear Laurence accompany the magnetic Gregory Generet, then ran uptown to listen to Hilary Kole. In a review of Hilary, the Times wrote:

Ms. Kole’s poised, sultry ballad-singing has always been easy on the ears. But her smooth melodic lines have never been so consistently infused with literary subtext, which spells the difference between sounding pretty and having something to say. Her version of the Dietz-Schwartz ballad “Haunted Heart” stood apart from any other through its translation into a bossa nova, in which Mr. McLean’s drums imitated the palpitations of a telltale heart. The sexy Brazilian ballad “Like a Lover” revolved around the singer’s envious identification with a “velvet moon” caressing a lover’s body.

I knew nothing about Miss Kole, though I did try to listen to a few Youtube clips before that evening. They don't do her justice (note to someone: please put up some better clips). Three songs into her set, and Gordon and I were captivated by her singing. I don't know that I've heard someone sing lyrics so sensitively since Susannah McCorkle. Except, unlike McCorkle, Kole has a fully developed, highly flexible, beautiful and tremendously musical voice. You can hear the Carmen McCrae in the way she caresses phrases. And while some have compared her to Diana Krall, it's not a fair comparison at all. Kole is infinitely warmer than Krall. I feel lucky that I was able to see her on a night before she begins her ascent.

In the past ten weeks, I've ingested more culture than I had in quite some time. I asked Gordon how he felt about this, and he said that it felt good and that we should continue to do our part to support the arts in New York City. And so, my calendar is filling up, even as I am thinking about possibly beginning a new draft of a new novel this week. I have plenty of music to help my imagination in the meantime.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Secrets and Earbuds

My trip to dance class generally takes me down a long subway corridor connecting Times Square and Port Authority. Along with the Jesus freaks, buskers and Scientology "Stress Tests," I often pass massive ad campaigns set up to use this vast bit of real estate, which I mostly ignore.

But earlier this week, I saw something strange. Men and women were standing alongside subway posters, sticking their earphones into the ad campaigns and talking to each other about what they'd heard.

These aren't ordinary subway posters. They do in fact contain earphone jacks and if you plug your buds in, you will hear the "secrets" of each person pictured in the photo. It's all part of a promotion for HBO's new season, and for the television show "Big Love" in particular.

Only, Big Love is a series about Mormons in Utah. The posters show urban folk out in New York hurrying along their way. Um, what's the connection? It seems tenuous to me. Cool technology, and I don't doubt I'll see it again (though it seems like and awfully expensive thing to pioneer in these stressful times).

Monday, February 09, 2009


Followup on Muses

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I was reading and thinking about Francine Prose's book The Lives of the Artists: Nine Muses and the Artists They Inspired. Today my friend Lisa emailed a link to Wired blog post featuring Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray Love fame. On getting rid of muses, and attributing an artist's work to genius instead, Gilbert says:

"Allowing somebody ... to believe that he or she is ... the essence and the source of all divine, creative, unknowable, internal mystery is just like a smidge of too much responsibility to put on one fragile human psyche," she said. "It's like asking somebody to swallow the sun. It just completely warps and distorts egos, and it creates all of these unnatural expectations about performance. I think the pressure of that has been killing off our artists for the last 500 years."

In defense of muses:

"If you never happen to believe in the first place that the most extraordinary aspects of your being [were created by you]," she said, you'd be better off. "Maybe if you just believe that they were on loan to you from some unimaginable source for some exquisite portion of your life, which you pass along when you're finished to somebody else," it would change everything.

What's better: being a genius or having a muse?


Reflections on Smalls

My jetlag is still severe, which made it easy for me this weekend to go to Smalls' late night set which started at midnight and featured Seamus Blake--a fantastic player with a first rate band, all of whom I loved. Never mind that the club was SRO and that I was stuck behind two very tall men and the bar and never did manage to see the drummer, Bill Stewart, who was one of those effortless and effervescent rhythm guys. It didn't matter. The music and musicianship of everyone--Lage Lund on guitar and Kikoski on the piano--was transporting and reminded me again of why it will be hard for us to ever permanently leave New York.

Smalls is still a great jazz club. It's also relatively cheap at a $20 cover. But it's changed.

I probably went to Smalls for the first time around 10 years ago with my crazy extended flute technique friend Ned because I'd heard about these all night sets where people would emerge at 7 AM after a long night of music. I was curious. What was a real jazz club like? The cover couldn't have been more than $10, and it was BYOB for alcohol and there were very few women. The owner sat outside on a little chair with his fluffy white dog and took our money and we dove downstairs into the dark.

There was a bar with juice, Coke and water, but it was self serve and Ned and I had fun sitting behind the counter, pouring drinks for newbies who didn't know any better. We didn't get any tips. This was a serious place. People were quiet and the music was always intense and, if not perfect, always striving. Then 9/11 happened, attendance dried up and the club closed and was sold. We were bereft. I will pay money for good gigs at the expensive clubs, but I don't always want to, and don't think I should always have to.

When Smalls reopened under a new owner, I was elated. But there were differences. The room had been made over with a real bar and real bartender. This was exciting, except that it invariably meant--as was the case this weekend--that drinkers uninterested in music showed up. Behind me was an annoying girl in a red tank top who seemed to think she was with the band, and that it was acceptable to yell out "Where is the jazz?" and to pretend she could successfully adopt a range of foreign accents (she couldn't). Some English guy was thrilled to chat up a girl by the bar by talking about his "deepening appreciation for American authenticity." Um, really? So why was he talking throughout the gig? I finally told him to shut up and my husband sent red-tank-top girl packing.

Or maybe I'm just getting old. I still love to see movies on a big screen, but I'm irritated by all the talking, and by all the unintelligent commentary that comes out of the audience in big theaters. Often, I'd rather watch a film at home. And I don't know how it has happened that serious jazz has become background music for inane conversation. Still, overall, I'm glad that Smalls exists, but I think going back will require some strategizing. The thing to do is to arrive early, get a great seat in the front away from the riff raff, and to not leave until the second set is over. That's roughly 4 hours of music, but then listening well is always a commitment.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Epeli Hau'ofa

A few days after posting about my obsession with the "vastness of Polynesia," I've stumbled across the writings of Epeli Hau'ofa, who died earlier this year. One blog explains the writer's unique background:

Ethnically Tongan, born in Papua New Guinea, educated in Australia, and a naturalized citizen of Fiji, Hau’ofa’s life exemplifies the vibrant, diverse, and connected image of Oceania he promoted throughout his life.

The blog contains a link to Hau'ofa's "seminal" essay, Our Sea of Oceans, which I've now read. Oddly enough, or maybe it isn't really so odd, I find that he has very clearly articulated the ideas I pounded out in my shoddy blog post concerning the lack of Hawaiian (or shall I say Oceanic) literature, and the importance of speaking up after having been conditioned into silence.

Hau'ofa challenges his people to embrace their history and to stop feeling that they must be dependent on the larger countries of the world for wealth and empowerment. In one paragraph, he recounts the world view that the ancients of Oceania had--the ones who navigated by the stars--and writes:

One legendary Oceanic athlete was so powerful that during a competition he threw his javelin with such force that it pierced the horizon and disappeared until that night, when it was seen streaking across the skyline like a meteor. Every now and then it reappears to remind people of the mighty deed. And as far as I'm concerned it is still out there, near Jupiter or somewhere.

I'm just a writer--a lazy kind of human being who sits and thinks and dreams up stuff. I am not doing something important like developing the economy of a so-called second or third world. But I do believe that literature and art matter. I'm hoping that Hau'ofa's students have ingested what he had to say, and are working their traditions into new art. Do it now, and stop letting everyone else tell your stories.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Polynesian Dreaming

Since returning home from Hawaii, I've been obsessively reading about Polynesia and fantasizing about which other islands I want to visit. I'm hoping for a trip to New Zealand in the future, followed by a jaunt to the Cook Islands, which are said to resemble the Hawaii of 30 years ago (read: unspoiled).

I am trying to share my enthusiasm with my husband. "Look," I said, "at how vast Polynesia is."

He, in turn, was delighted to realize that New Zealand is part of Polynesia and has ever since been making me watch videos like this.

So, that'll work out your quads. And your tongue.

For the uninitiated, this is the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby team, apparently the very best of all the rugby teams in the world. I have now spent a good 30 minutes watching versions of this video. It seems the All Blacks commence every game with this Haka, or war dance. The Irish seem to be capable of nothing else, in the face of this dance-off, but hugging each other.

And then, there is this:

But the question persists: were they true Scotsmen? (Or just models?)

Monday, February 02, 2009


Final Days in Paradise (This Trip)

Who am I to say no to an upgrade involving a red convertible? We were able to tan much faster than usual with the top down. And, frankly, it's much easier and safer to drive an open convertible. Too many blind spots otherwise.

We drove to Hanauma Bay, home of superb snorkeling. It is as they say: the fish will swim right up to you, unperturbed and expecting food, though you aren't supposed to feed them.

Later, we drove around the north shore to Giovanni's shrimp shack, home of the most incredible smoothie I have ever had. I want very much to bring Isao and Nono to this place. For those in the know, yes, I ordered one plate of the non-refundable spicy shrimp and ate them all. I would go back to Oahu just to eat more of these shrimp.

I love the way that people "go native" so quickly. Gordon kept asking locals if they too wear Hawaiian shirts, and apparently they do. They also apparently are happy to catch the bus just to go buy a pineapple.

I practically turned into a pineapple.

Doumyouji likes Hawaii too.

Everyone loves Obama. A bus driver took a detour for us just so we could see Obama's high school. He said: "No one has started an Obama tour yet, but it's just a matter of time." It's extraordinary to think of this man growing up in this mellow, mellow place, and ending up in cold Washington. No wonder he complains about the cold all the time.

I asked a few people if the farmers on Hawaii are politically conservative since farmers tend to be conservative on the mainland. The answer was always a very tight: "No." I get the sense that conservatism is a dirty word here.

The rainbow is everywhere in Hawaii--the license plate, for example. "I think," said Gordon, "that the rainbow doesn't mean here what it means everywhere else." Given that we saw rainbows almost every day, I suspect that this is true, and that the rainbow is simply another decorative element in a place that isn't interested in hard, cold, East Coast cynicism.

This woman was knitting a dish-scrubber. She informed me that the best scouring pads are made of acrylic. I can clean anything with a crocheted or knitted scouring pad. I can even clean Teflon coated pans. I think I'll give her advice a try.

I mentioned that a bus driver told me I should take a certain bus, wait until the driver turns off the ignition, and then get out of the bus. "That's where you'll find real Hawaiian food." I was skeptical, but curious (I mean, he was giving me instructions on where to eat, and that kind of information is sacred and precious). So off we went.

And it was as he said it would be. The number 13 bus stopped and the driver hopped out. And so did we.

Not too far away, we found Ono's Hawaiian food, a sort of mellow but stern place, where we were instructed to wait outside until seated.

I'm not completely sure what all of this is, but I think it was dried beef, pork, salmon and tomato and chicken. It was delicious. High class Hawaiian cuisine is a relatively new concept--much in the same way that California cuisine is a new thing. It took a while, but eventually chefs realized that good meals could be prepared using local ingredients; meat didn't need to be flown in from France. I like it when people realize that they have every reason to be proud of their own environment and their own culture. Food like Ono's--traditional Hawaiian food--is the base from which this "new Hawaiian cuisine" springs and it's nice to see people feeling pride in what is authentically theirs.

Tourist shops routinely sell Tiki art, most of which, I'm afraid, is made in China. I was very attracted to the idea of buyig a nice Tiki piece, but of course wanted something authentic.

Late one night, after we inadvertently followed some hookers down a street, we came across a little stall up in a corner, with a Tiki artist at work. He was from Tonga, though he now lives in Hawaii. Later I realized that Tonga is part of Polynesia, a chain of islands which share a culture and of which Hawaii is a part.

I picked a couple pieces that I liked, then went back to the hotel to sleep on it. In the morning, I decided I would need to go back to take home two pieces with me. And so, sunburned from a day at the beach and with the top of the convertible down, we went back to see Mr. Tiki artist, and made our purchases.


Flowers, Continued

Waimea Valley on Oahu is home to a lovely waterfall, and a number of unusual plants and flowers. The walk is easy, and worth doing.

I loved this sleeve of a vine.

When I looked at the vine up close, I found these flowers hanging--I can't think of any other word to use but the not so PC "exotic."

Okay. So the coconut is not a flower. But it can be picked and drunk fresh--incredible nectar.


Literature in Hawaii

I tried to think of novels that are iconic representations of Hawaii--this is easy to do for a city like New York. Not so easy for Hawaii. Certain novels come to mind: From Here to Eternity by James Jones, and Hawaii by James Michner. In a bookstore I found a few "Hawaiian Readers" which compiled pieces written by writers throughout history. There were Robert Louis Stevenson and Mark Twain (and the aforementioned Jones and Michener). But where were the Hawaiians?

Wikipedia lists a few writers with roots in Hawaii. Every now and then on my trip I found books on Hawaiian and Polynesian myths, collected in the 19th century. But the Hawaiians themselves are largely silent. No surprise, I suppose, when you think about the fact that Hawaii is essentially a conquered country. It's a bit eerie to look at all the leis and the Alohas and the goodwill and to think about the history behind the commodification of these things and the near silence in literature of Hawaii's people.

Of course, the silence of conquered people isn't unusual. The whole thing made me think of a conversation I had with my friend, the poet Orlando White. We met a few years ago, and our talk is something I've returned to in my mind from time to time because his world-view was so interesting to me. Without betraying any confidences, I'll just say that I've always been struck by the the skepticism with which Orlando said he viewed language. (Watch what people say, not what they do, said my father). Words do have power and whoever writes history, of course, gets to control the truth. This isn't a new concept; we learn this in school, and the more we study, the more we are taught to question the truth and if history has hidden layers that are not at the front of the historical record. In our country, Native Americans--Orlando's people--were often taken from their parents and "re-educated" into forgetting traditional beliefs. In a context like that, I could see how talking and words would appear to have a tricky, unreliable power.

My argument--and how like a privileged person this makes me sound--is that the only way to make sure your story is on the record in the first place is to tell the truth yourself. And I thought to myself how privileged I am to come from two cultures accustomed to wealth and conquering and having their way, with rich literary traditions for men and for women to boot. And I also thought to myself how we are only just now starting to see the emergence of literature from second generation writers. Now we are trying to tell stories that others might miss because they are so busy looking in on us as rather fascinating objects.

But back to Hawaii. Land of Polynesian myths, sadness, beauty and a mixture of people. It's waiting for great stories and great fiction, for someone with a sympathetic and synthesizing mind to write something true. And by true, I don't mean another one of these books in which white people go, get stoned, fall in love, and fight with each other while hiring locals to do the cleaning and shopping and act as back-drop figures. There is a story about the inside of Hawaii, about the reality of being Hawaiian that is waiting to be written. My guess is that some young person is out there now wrestling with all of the cultural richness to produce such a story, as someone out there is always noticing a creative void and trying to fill it.

But it was a beautiful and strange thing to visit Hawaii, to see what a playground it is for tourists, and yet how poor it is in some places, and slightly disorganized. It felt very familiar and yet I suspect if I'd had time to do a little more digging, I would have found myself in a place that very nearly felt like a foreign country. I'm keen to try the other islands now, and read whatever else I can on Hawaiian literature, land of Hawaiians and hapas like myself.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?