The Local Literary Scene

Isle pages

New releases from
Hawaii authors

"The Ghost of Walter Kupau"
by Lori Aquino
(Mutual, $10.95)

Write about what you know! Here, Kupau's lawyer Aquino deals with the spirit of the late labor leader with a character that is clearly based on herself and, amazingly -- through sheer writing talent and storytelling ability -- creates a brief novel that seems achingly true throughout. This year, "Kupau" is far and away the liveliest and most interesting work of local fiction.

"Amaryllis of Hawaii -- Imaginations, Poetry and Story"
by Marilyn Jansen
(Dream Series #1, $15.95)

This is sort of a coloring book for grownups in need of psychic healing. Self-actualization through Crayola? Maui designer Jansen has combined cluttered Hawaii images with swoopy words that explore the dualistic nature of intuition and imagination. Part of a marketing blitz that includes T-shirts, bookbags and packaging.

"Pacific Jewelry and Adornment"
by Roger Neich and Fuli Pereira,
pictures by Krzysztof Pfeiffer
(University of Hawaii Press, $33)

The urge to decorate oneself is world-wide, and without metalsmithing, Pacific cultures had to manage with other natural materials that were both striking and beautiful. This illustrated survey bridges Pacific cultures with sheer, delicate craftsmanship and creativity.

"Aloha Betrayed -- Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism"
by Noenoe K. Silva
(Duke University Press $21.95)

The scary cover says it all -- here's an angry book by a scholar who has made a career out of professional disenfranchisement. Many, many Hawaiians did not like being annexed by the United States more than a century ago and complained bitterly. Silva tracks their unsuccessful legal and cultural protests -- that she is able to do so shows how powerful they were.

"Aloha, Kauai -- A Childhood"
by Waimea Williams
(Island Heritage, $6.99)

It's said so often that it must be true -- if you want to see the "real" Hawaii, go to the neighbor islands. Williams, who matured on Kauai during the '50s, tells us what it was like back then to be out of the mainstream. It was a good thing! This slim book is like Auntie sitting you down and lecturing you on the Good Old Days.

"100 Best Surf Spots in the World"
by Rod Sumpter
(Insiders' Guide, $19.95)

In case you're wondering, 21 of the 100 are in Hawaii. Sumpter, both a surfer and surf photographer, seems to have tried out each beach, around the world, or at least photographed it, from Mavericks in Half Moon Bay to Hossegor, France, to Uluwatu, Bali. Each chapter has how-to-get-there instructions, break charts and year-long tidal and temp graphs. Compared to Hawaii, a lot of these beaches look cold and gray, but the waves are bitchin'.

"Hawai'i's Pineapple Century"
by Jan K. Ten Bruggencate
(Mutual, $15.95)

For Hawaii people of a certain age, including myself, "picking pines" for Dole was a summertime job rite of passage. But now Hawaii's glamour crop has largely disappeared from our fields, and so has its influence on local culture. Pineapple scientist Ten Bruggencate (son Jan W.P. is an Advertiser writer and co-author) deftly captures the complexities of the "king of fruit." DeSoto Brown contributes wonderful advertisements.

"Completing the Union -- Alaska, Hawai'i and the Battle for Statehood"
by John S. Whitehead
(University of New Mexico Press, $22.95)

The territories were always on the fringe of American society until World War II, when they became the front lines of defense. Even so, it took 13 years of lobbying against anti-communist hysteria and cultural blindness to admit the last two states to the union. History professor Whitehead thoroughly covers the political battle at each awkward step.

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