Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, September 17, 1999


Explore ‘Deep’ waters


The Face of the Deep
By Thomas Farber; Mercury House
177 pages; paperback $14.95

By Greg Ambrose
Special to the Star-Bulletin


ANYONE expecting a simple, joyful immersion in the waters of the Pacific to swim, snorkel and dive with the ocean's creatures is in for a surprise.

"The Face of the Deep" is also a plunge into the cultures and perspectives of the people whose lives are touched by that vast body of water.

Thomas Farber guides readers through a tour of indigenous people's oceanic literature that makes them more familiar to us as people, rather than as character actors in a travelogue.

The contrast between the perspectives of outsiders and locals is as striking as that between a Midwesterner's and an islander's impressions of the ocean.

Farber finds the Aloha state irresistible, and his seemingly simple pursuit of pleasure in Hawaii's waves is elevated by a kind of Zen profundity. Looking beneath the outer placidity of waiting out a small swell, Farber contemplates inner turmoil, and find peace in the process.

The sea reveals itself in so many ways to so many people -- terrifying, comforting, exciting, pleasing, mystifying, ever changing -- that every person's reaction to the ocean reveals more about themselves than the sea.

Farber's writing is superb, equally deft at observing terrain visible and internal. This book is not a diversion, but a challenging journey that rewards the diligent reader with a more profound relationship with the ocean.

By using the ocean as his literary vehicle of exploration, Farber invites readers to contemplate those things about their lives and their society that make them squirm, to fathom the unfathomable.


Hawai'i's Best Beaches
By John R.K. Clark; U.H. Press
149 pages; paperback $19.95


HERE is great news for anyone eager to find the perfect beach for any activity. Honolulu Fire Department captain, surfer and Hawaiiana scholar John Clark has selected the top 50 beaches from among the 500 he has exhaustively profiled in his series of books on Hawaii's beaches. Now, beachgoers impatient to head shoreward can skip the extensive cultural, geophysical and historical information that make Clark's other books so fascinating and read just the essential details in "Hawai'i's Best Beaches."

The book's format is simple genius. Focusing on beaches on six islands, sumptuous photographs by Nelson Makua entice readers to the beach, which maps and clear directions help them find. The text provides a brief but intriguing description of the beach, its history, recreational attractions, water safety concerns and creature comforts.

With the publication of "Hawai'i's Best Beaches" no one can complain that they don't know where to find some fun in the sun. And some readers might be intrigued enough by Clark's writing to track down his other, more informative, beach books.

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