Sunday, September 28, 2003

New releases by Hawaii authors

Reviewed by Burl Burlingame

"Murder in Paradise --
A Christmas in Hawaii
Turns to Tragedy"

by Chris Loos and Rick Castberg
(Avon True Crime, $7.50)

This is likely a book the Visitors' Bureau wouldn't like you to read -- the gruesomely fascinating tale of the thrill killing of Big Island visitor Dana Ireland on Christmas Eve, 1991, the subsequent bungling by Hilo police and ambulance crews and the dragged-out us-vs.-them court case that put the Wild-West lawlessness of Puna under an embarrasing spotlight. This recounting of the case is straight-forward and clear, with an exceptional amount of detail. Loos is the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reporter who covered the case from the beginning, while Castberg is a Hilo professor specializing in legal issues -- the result is both shocking and insightful.

"Hawaii's Mike Sakamoto
Presents 101 Fishing Tips"

by Mike Sakamoto
(Bess Press, $14.95)

The tips are actually tip-bits -- "More papio are in the shallows hunting for something to eat when the tide is up" reads the entire text of one -- and the rest of the book is devoted to more of a general guide to Hawaiian-style fishing, plus dozens of photos of happy anglers holding up their wriggling catches for the camera. As Hawaii's highest-profile fishing enthusiast, thanks to his KHON TV series "Fishing Tales" and several other books on the subject, Sakamoto apparently still has lots to say on the subject. Laid out in Bess Press' no-frills textbook style, this is one of those titles that fisherfolk can't resist, and non-fishers won't figure out. Good thing we're surrounded by water out here in the islands.

"Hawaiian Family Legends"
by Matthew Kaopio
(Mutual, $10.95)

This is one of those pleasant, well-printed, colorful art-and-story books that seems perfectly OK, and then you find out a bit more about the creator, and then the book seems extraordinary. Kaopio became a quadruplegic a decade ago after a diving accident, and since then taught himself to write and paint using his mouth. Most people can't paint this well using their hands.

Kaopio has a dynamic sense of color, composition and rhythm in his works, and the influence of Herb Kane is evident in his sense of magical realism. The legends are those passed down through Kaopio's family, or had special significance for him, and the book is a modern version of the ancient Hawaiian art of storytelling. Jane Hopkins' design for the landscape-format edition is superb and sensitive without being kitschy. Kaopio is currently seeking a Master of Art degree in college, but frankly, he doesn't need that piece of paper. He's already got the vision and talent.

"Ka Ho'oilina -- The Legacy"
by Puke Pai
'Olelo Hawaii --The Journal of
Hawaiian language Sources,
Edited by luna ho'oponopono
(Alu Like, Kamehameha Schools Press,
University of Hawaii Press,
$144 for a four-issue subscription)

The latest editions of this scholarly journal, which reformats classic Hawaiian works into an interesting, four-column format -- the first is the source text in the original Hawaiian; the second is also in Hawaiian, but with modern spelling, pronunciation characters and punctuation; the third is an English-language translation; the fourth column contains notes and observations -- covers various newspaper series from the 1800s, the 1852 Constitution, textbooks and the conclusion of a historical piece written by Samuel Kamakau in 1867.

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