Springtime in Hawaii – everything looks about the same – but the locals are gearing up for the annual hula competition, the Merrie Monarch Festival on the Big Island – home of the volcano.
Hula schools, known as halau, dance against each other, getting points for expression, gestures, and costumes – no hapa haole (English) songs allowed. It’s a big deal – both men and women compete – and it’s not the tourist variety dancing you see on commercials.
Lots of books on, about, for Hawaii… Michener wrote the epic saga that every tourist should read on the plane ride over, but Paul Theroux, who now lives on Oahu’s North Shore, offers an irreverent view of visitors and locals in his Hotel Honolulu. Framed like a Canterbury Tales, this reads more like bawdy and shocking tales of the Decameron. The observed characters could be anywhere, but Buddy, the hotel manager, is typical of those looking to reclaim a life by moving to the islands.
Want more tame and historical? Molokai by Alan Brennert has a woman exiled to Kalaupapa when she is diagnosed with Hanson’s disease – set in the 1890s, before the cure – a tear-jerker. Brennert’s latest – Honolulu – promises more historical fiction – a good perspective on Hawaii before it became the Aloha State. Jin, a Korean “picture-bride” comes looking for a new life and finds herself in a not so romantic arranged marriage.
A hui hou…