Wednesday, March 18, 2009

House of Many Gods

Click on photos to enlarge! Wai'anae Valley, O'ahu

"Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Home Sweet Hale

“It is a well-known fact that we always recognize our homeland when we are about to lose it.”
Albert Camus

Tutu (Grandma)

“The hero draws inspiration from the virtue of his ancestors.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

After a torrid childhood love affair with fiction, I got too busy and too grown-up to read all that merely "made up stuff." For years I didn't have time for it. I went whoring after information, thirsted after facts. But now, with the world's systems roiling, our parents passing, and age inexplicably encroaching even upon ourselves, I find once again that I am deeply fed by stories. . .Human stories. . . Yours. . . and Mine. . .

Our lives, I believe, are lifted and dignified when we remember the struggles of those who came before with gratitude, and when we awaken to the wonder of our own parading moments. . .

In her well received novel, House of Many Gods, Kiana Davenport (author of Song of the Exile) demonstrates "that living is a sacred act." My Hawaii novel, Aloha Where You Like Go? is the story of one who journeys to the Islands, learning about life & herself, through this uniquely rich setting. But Ms. Davenport (of Native Hawaiian & Anglo-American descent) writes from the Na'au, the bowels of this 'Aina (sacred land) itself, where the deepest truths of the Hawaiian people and their gods reside. . .

Opening these pages, we find ourselves among the very rocks and roots of the most Hawaiian of places, far from Honolulu city lights: Waianae Valley on O'ahu's Leeward Coast. This is a place and a way of life that few outsiders get to know beneath the hot, sunny surface. I had the privilege of conducting an after school group at Waianae High School for a few years and felt deeply touched to be even a small part of the lives of the children and families of "the coast." They taught me a lot. It is indeed a special place!

This story begins with all the commonplace cliches of the district: poverty, drugs, crime, the struggle for dignity, family dysfunction, and the cultural dislocation and dispossession of the Hawaiian people. But this is no political screed. Through dazzlingly arresting phrases & sentences, the author creates characters and scenes that come to life in your heart. Small kid times, extended families, homely joys, and keening rich pain, all coalesce into a whispering spell that draws a reader like an undertow of the mind. . . I really cared about Ana, and her family. Then a plot twist whisked me to a completely different setting; A land of moonlit birches, of unrelenting snow & cold. . . If you choose to read House of Many Gods, you will not be disappointed. Not only will you touch the ineffable (ah! literature!) but you will absorb a deeply soulful nourishment.

Oh! and you will absorb interesting "facts" and "information" in the truest way: through humanity and caring. Thanks for stopping by today.

A L O H A! Cloudia