Saturday, March 21, 2009

Brennert a Class Act

Click on photos to enlarge!"The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself."
Rita Mae Brown

A Very Competent Workman
(He is making the "Shaka" gesture that is a friendly greeting among Hawaii people - NOT a gang sign!)

"Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it."
Henry David Thoreau

Alan Brennert: Author & Gentleman

“A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.”
George Bernard Shaw

Throughout classic Asian cultures, a person was not considered completely cultivated, truly civilized, if they could not write a passable poem. Additionally, it was the height of barbarity & rudeness to receive one and NOT reply. By these lights, many otherwise well-regarded modern folks are barbarians. How many of us have sent a manuscript, CD, or weblink to someone we might reasonably expect an acknowledgement from, and then heard. . . Nothing. . . ?

Then there are recognized artists, or writers, who remain humble even while enjoying best seller(s), the laurels, and the rewards that success brings. They feel, perhaps, a responsibility to their muse & a mission to carry the torch with some purpose greater than their egos. They remain alert to the struggling beginner for whom a kind word is like winning a prestigious award. No need to lie, a mere friendly acknowledgement will satisfy the hobbyist, feed and fire up the true & lonely journeyman.

A while back I blogged a review of Alan Brennert's Molokai a novel that haunts me still with it's successful alchemy of research, skill, & magic. You can look at the review here:

Well, out of the blue, Mr. Brennert was kind enough to send me a friendly e-mail graciously thanking me for the review! His book is already HUGE, and he's on to the next one. He didn't have to do that. He wrote that my little Hawaii novel, Aloha Where You Like Go? and this blog, looked "interesting" and invited me to meet him here in Honolulu during the promotional tour of his latest: Honolulu.

Last Saturday was rainy, and wet in more ways than one (see previous post Water Week). Consumed by my domestic excitement I had forgotten the long awaited rendezvous. At 20 minutes till the book signing, the light went on! I jumped into clothes (all black matches - no thinking) and even found a parking spot. (quite a condensed sentence eh?).

Mr. Brennert's latest, is the story of a young Korean "Picture Bride" who came to these islands in the early 20th century to marry. Many mainlanders cannot discern a Chinese from a Japanese person. Living in Hawaii, I have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting and befriending the above, plus Korean-Americans, and thus becoming aware of this great culture even before TV's LOST, or Hyundai.

The early chapters of Honolulu have already "hooked" me, and taught me things I never understood about the "Yobo" culture, food, history & language. When the action moves to Hawaii I'll need to retreat to a locked room to gorge on this story. Do not disturb. The man has skills and heart - the unbeatable literary combination! He mentioned during the reading, that he chose a Korean protagonist partly because the wonderful independent film Picture Bride had already addressed the story from the better-known Japanese perspective. Smart move. Picture Bride is a masterpiece that says more about the real Hawaii than a dozen history books! I strongly suggest that you see it. AFTER reading Honolulu that is ;-)

Alan was friendly, and humbly happy to exchange signed books. Easily wearing the generosity of "the great" he elevated me to his rarefied empyrean, and we talked simply as fellow writers. I personally know how exhausting (if exhilarating) it is to address even a sympathetic audience about one's passion. And this was the last stop of the tour for a very sniffly and sore-throated author!

Nevertheless, he took time to talk story with me about his career (TV writing, genre fiction) about the process of researching and producing a novel, and about his love of Hawaii. "The next book," he said, "won't be set in the islands. Don't want to be typecast." Cloudia (relieved): "That's my pigeon-hole!"

So check out Honolulu. And thank you for entering the Comfort Spiral! Stop by any time; The A l o h a here is always as fresh as two-finger poi! Cloudia