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Sunday, November 17, 2002


ISLE PAGES
New releases by Hawaii authors


"The Shimmering — ka 'olili"
By Keola Beamer ('Ohe Books, $14.95)


"Field Guide to the Samoan Archipelago, Fish, Wildlife, and Protected Areas"
By Meryl Rose Goldin (Bess Press, $14.95)


"Unbending Cane — Pablo Manlapit, A Filipino Labor Leader in Hawaii"
By Melinda Tria Kerkvliet (Office of Multicultural Student Services, $15)



Reviewed by Burl Burlingame
bburlingame@starbulletin.com

"The Shimmering — ka 'olili"
The way-talented Beamer has put down his guitar long enough to write some short pieces of fiction that seem authentically and organically part of modern Hawaii, drawing not only on ancient Hawaiian self-mysticism but equally on the groove of drug and surf culture. Some stories are spooky, some are funny, some simply observational; all are thoughtful and dramatically designed.

While Beamer still has a way to go in the fiction-writing department -- loads of adjectives still don't work as well as pacing and context -- he's a born storyteller. The title story works particularly well in it's treatment of advancing dementia -- or is it lycanthropy? Or is it Pele playing a joke? A couple of these chillers should be read out loud around a campfire.

"Field Guide to the Samoan Archipelago, Fish, Wildlife, and Protected Areas"
You want fish, this field guide has fish. Hundreds of side views in full color, well-illustrated by artist/scientist Goldin. Plus mollusks, a smorgasbord of invertibrates, mammals (not that many; we're dealing with bats and whales, mostly), birds, reptiles, snails, worms -- anything you're likely to encounter swimming, flying, crawling, inching, stinging, creeping, floating or buzzing about the Samoan necklace of islands in the South Pacific.

Although these reefs are among the most pure found anywhere in the world, sure enough, there are American cockroaches included here as well.

"Unbending Cane — Pablo Manlapit, A Filipino Labor Leader in Hawaii"
The "most dangerous" Manlapit was a key figure in organizing Hawaii labor, and thus made a significant contribution to modern Hawaiian history.

This volume joins the slim bookshelf of Hawaiian labor history, of which much more needs to be done -- think of the all the self-aggrandizing works commissioned by Hawaii's captains of industry -- and so this book is both welcome and needed.

It's also rather stiff and scholarly and lectures rather than tells. It's possible this work began as a college thesis -- it reads like it. Nonetheless, it's an uncomfortable light shed on Big Five activities prior to the war, and the Federal paranoia following, and so should be read by anyone wishing to understand that era.



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