New book of columns to see ‘Lite’
It's kind of humiliating to have to ask people to write something witty and laudatory about you to go on the cover of a book.
Since I've never suffered from humility, I had no problem pestering famed author and Hawaii resident Paul Theroux for a blurb for my new book, "Hey, Waiter, There's an Umbrella in My Drink!" But because he writes so many travel books, he's kind of hard to reach.
I managed to track him down via e-mail to an Internet cafe in Azerbaijan, of all places. He kindly consented to write the blurb, and then I didn't hear from him for several weeks. The blurb finally came via his Blackberry from Sri Lanka.
I don't know how well my book will sell, but it likely will have a place in literary history as containing a blurb that traveled the longest distance.
I was lucky enough to also browbeat a blurb out of Esquire magazine editor-at-large A.J. Jacobs, whose book, "The Know It All," I just coincidentally happened to write glowingly of in this very space. And since a lack of humility knows no bounds, I conned blurbs out of people like radio personality Michael W. Perry, promoter Tom Moffatt, comedian Andy Bumatai and Wally Amos, the cookie man.
So now I guess I'd better write a book.
Actually, the book has been under construction since I started "Honolulu Lite" 15 years ago. I told my friends, "It's going to be a collection of my best columns going back to 1991." They said, "All three of them?" Heh, heh, heh. Friends.
I approached Ruth Ann Becker of Becker Communications to act as my manager and help me find a publisher. She struck a deal with George Engebretson, head of Watermark Publishing. And so the book was born.
The problem was what to call it, which isn't as easy as you'd think. Since the title has to tell tourists as well as locals what the book is about, it has to be funny-ish, vaguely exotic, catchy and original. In other words, "War and Peace" was out.
We kicked around a number of titles, including "Hey, Haole!" "The Calabash Chronicles," "A Million Little Stories of Hawaii (Hey, Oprah, Read My Book!)," "Tiny Baubles," "The Mongoose in My Pajamas," "Hokey Poke," "My Hawaii (But You Should See the Mortgage)" and "Hey, Tourist! Buy This Book, Too!" (the last being a sequel to my first book, called "Hey, Tourist, Buy This Book," a publication that left the literary world awash in apathy).
We settled on the title "Hey, Waiter, There's an Umbrella in My Drink!" with a subtitle that is too embarrassing to go into here.
The title comes from an essay I wrote discussing the history of putting tiny paper umbrellas into tropical drinks and why the technology has not evolved to more modern ways of keeping cocktails protected from the elements. I'm still unclear on who first decided to stick an umbrella in a drink instead of, say, a tiny raincoat or miniature galoshes. And you can only imagine the reaction of the first person to receive a drink with foul-weather paraphernalia sticking out of it.
"Hey, Waiter, There's an Umbrella In My Drink!" should be on store shelves this summer.
I told my friends that with its publication I can relax knowing that the long and occasionally questionable history of "Honolulu Lite" is duly recorded. I might even consider retirement.
To which they asked, "Retirement from WHAT?" Friends.
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org