Murder in Hawaii

From Elaine Pasquali

Title:  Murder in Hawaii

Author:  Steve Allen

Steve Allen and his wife, Jayne Meadows, go to Hawaii to guest star in a detective series, Hawaiian Wave.   Their friend and star of the series, Billy Markham, fears he is the victim of a secret stalker.  After many mishaps and two deaths, Steve and Jayne try to discover what evil is  lurking and who is doing the lurking.  As always, Steve Allen manages to weave his celebrity and bits of his personal life into the story line.  An engaging and relaxing summer read.


The descendants: a novel

From Catherine Given
Author:  Kaui Hart  Hemmings
The descendants: a novel
By now you’ve probably seen either The Descendants’ promos or the movie featuring George Clooney and Beau Bridges. In the novel it’s based on, Hemmings provides a sensitive account of the dealings of a comfortably numb man. Matthew, the mostly emotionally absent father of a  wacky,disconnected family, along with daughters Alex, a scornful young adult, and Scottie, who’s ten going on 30, have  just suffered a great shock.  His wife, Joanie, has had a boat-racing accident, leaving the threesome in limbo, for the first time totally dependent on each other.

Matthew hasn’t spent any time with the girls as they were too young to relate to. He’s been so busy preserving his founding Hawaiian family’s legacy that he and his kids are strangers to each other.  “I come from the school of thought where a dad’s absence is something to be counted on,” he says.  . . . “I remember the girls sort of bothered me as babies, the way everyone raced around to accommodate them. . . .It felt like I was living with royalty.”

These characters are beautifully delineated, realistically flawed and out of necessity, it seems, eventually nurturing to one another. You’ll feel you know them well by the time a few plot twists have churned and settled to momentary stillness, like a surge of Hawaiian surf. Their newly-reconstituted family’s warm but bumpy ride has just begun.

Stealing the wave : the epic struggle between Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo

From Jackie Cantwell
author: Martin, Andrew
Stealing the wave : the epic struggle between Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo
Ken Bradshaw’s picture is hanging in my living room, and I’ll tell you why. He surfed the biggest, or one of the biggest, waves of all time (estimated at 85 feet) on January 28, 1998 on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.  This is an interesting account of two very different men, both trying to attain the status as one of the best big wave riders in the world. Bradshaw (born 1952) arrived in Hawaii in 1972, having surfed in his native Texas and California.  He was tall, built like a linebacker, gruff, and single-minded in his pursuit of surfing big waves.  Mark Foo (born 1958) was a native of Singapore and moved with his family to Hawaii, then Maryland, Florida, and back to Hawaii for good in 1975.  Foo was boyish, slim, photogenic, media-savvy, and relentlessly attention-seeking.  He had interests in real estate, writing surfing articles, surfing documentaries, and women.  Ever the opportunist, Foo courted corporate sponsorships.  Naturally, they clashed when both in the surf and on land, about everything from surfing technique, to using the media, to surfing contests, to what surfboards to use.  They both tested their mettle in Waimea Bay, where waves were regularly 20 feet tall or better. Bradshaw, the big brute, was so territorial he actually bit into Foo’s board with his teeth and left it in chunks, because he felt Foo stole his wave. Bradshaw was not above knocking guys off their boards and brawling on the beach.

The author surfed the smaller waves and spent a lot of time with the book’s subjects and other surfers in Hawaii.  His prose is sometimes overwrought as in: “Bradshaw was re-enacting the trajectory of the entire American nation, going from the east to the west of the continent and then keeping on going, pushing the frontier ever further outwards into space.  Bradshaw was America.”  The middle of the book dragged for me somewhat. He describes their philosophies, training regimens and the prevailing surf culture.  It gets interesting again when he describes Foo’s successful attempts at creating a harem of Brazilian beauties in his home. I wish the book had photos of Ken and Mark; the back cover had to suffice for me.  This book is recommended for landlubbers and surfers alike.

Unfamiliar Fishes

From Ellen Druda
author: Vowell, Sarah
Unfamiliar Fishes
Sarah Vowell’s slightly sarcastic and very personal telling of the Americanization of Hawaii begins with the arrival of Capt. James Cook and  ends in the 19th century, when we annexed the islands. The history throws sharp focus on the natives themselves: their cultural rituals and royalty, the innocent lifestyle and the effect of the many Christian missionaries, and how their lives were changed by America’s Manifest Destiny and the rowdy whalers from around the world. The magnificent beauty and strategic location of the islands play important roles in the story too, which turns out to be a sad condemnation of Western civilization.

Song of the Exile

From Susan Hirschmann
author: Davenport, Kiana
Song of the Exile
This novel of compelling stories of members of a Hawaiian family takes place through the turbulent years of WWII up until statehood in 1959, and sweeps across Europe, Asia and the Pacific.  Kiana is a native Hawaiian author who has thoroughly researched the geography and history of the events of the era to provide a rich landscape for her novel that includes the sexual enslavement of women during WWII by the Japanese military.  I really enjoyed the book, and wondered why it wasn’t given more press. (copyright 1999).
Gloria Steinem weighed in with the following comment: “reveals the emotional truths hidden beneath the WWII euphemism ‘comfort women’. A half century later, this important and powerful novel gives these women a way out of the  perpetual exile of the forgotten”.