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What we have here, at the heart of it, is a tale of unrequited romance and longing. The details are these -- Hjemas, now a Hawaii resident, grew up in a mystical family in Peru, became an undocumented (and pregnant) alien in the U.S., an exotic dancer pawed over (and thrice married) to unsuitable thugs and had a desire to excel in the arts. An interesting and unusual biography -- her drawings, even of strippers getting ogled, are charming -- marred only by too-wide typesetting.
"It Was a Cold Day in Paris"
By Miryam Holm Hjemas
Honolulu Advertiser columnist Cataluna is a genuinely talented storyteller with a canny ear for local rhythms of speech and behavior, and who apparently pumps out wonderful work in the same amount of time it takes the rest of us to type bylines. She's produced good stuff in the past, but this collection of interconnected stories about working-class Hawaii is really something special. Magical. Yes, around here, we all hate her.
"Folks You Meet in Longs and Other Stories"
By Lee Cataluna
Bamboo Ridge, $14.95