A Nine Term US Senator And Political Patriarch Is Dead, Leaving Hawai I At A Crossroads Crumbling Public Education At All Levels, A Crystal Meth Epidemic, And Class Divisions So Deep That Even State Senator Russell Lee Has To Scramble To Avoid Eviction From His Family S Dream Home When An Illegal Gambling Debt Puts Him Further In The Hole, Russell S Only Way Out Is To Go All In, Joining Forces With An Up And Coming Developer, An Underworld Kingpin, And A Chinese Casino Magnate Their Goal To Sway An Electorate Easily Distracted By UH Football Into Rolling The Dice On The Biggest Legislative Gamble In The State S History Russ Lays It All On The Line In A Battle That Pits Him Against The Anointed Democratic Party Favorite, An Entrenched Anti Development Movement, And The Long Lost Righteous Hawaiian Blood Brother He Must Convince To Join Him In The Name Of Helping His People From The Summit Of Mauna Kea To The Crowded Shores Of Waikiki, From The State Capitol To The Seedy Backstreets Of Honolulu, Mark Panek Leaves Out Nothing In This Scathing Portrait Of St Century Paradise I was thrilled to see a novel about modern Hawaii But, disappointed in it s execution. The scope of this book is incredible, its characters believable, and it message vital If you ever wanted a book that takes you past the post card and tourist commercial image of Paradise, and gives you a backstage pass to see the struggles facing modern Hawaii, this is the one. Wow what a book Hawaii as it is today, described from various viewpoints The author critically defines, skewers, and criticizes every stereotype perfectly.This book is definitely not on the chamber of commerces recommended reading list. A corrupt yet charismatic Hawaiian politician with big dreams and an even bigger gambling debt.A middle aged Hawaiian crime lord looking for a way to maintain his prestige and possibly go straight.A young local Japanese public school grad looking to outmaneuver all the prep school grads into becoming a real estate dealer and political fixer.An anti development toenail Hawaiian Hawaiian Studies Professor looking for a way to get his academic tenure while still remaining dedicated to noble causes.These four main characters slam together in a glorious car wreck of money, political power and corruption along with many others set against the paradisaical settings of Hawaii It was really fun seeing so many fictionalized versions of real life figures in Hawaii dragged out and lambasted for all they re worth.I m really surprised that a mainland malihini academic like Panek was able to nail the reality of life in Hawaii so completely and honestly Underneath the whole aloha and tourism vibe is the byzantine relations of race and class, of people just scraping by while others give up the ghost and leave the land their ancestors are buried in and helped build The bread and circuses of football, religion, MMA, sex, drugs and easy money The paralyzed hopelessness of those who stay, and the well meaning and patronizing concern of outsiders who flood in, in awe of the beauty of the land and the history of the people even as they crowd and price out the locals.Some say that this book is reminiscent of Tom Wolfe s novels While there is biting social commentary and irony, it lacks Wolfe s sense of humor and importantly his deft use of prose I found the writing to be a bit clumsy and self conscious More telling than showing in a lot of places Still, the power of the storytelling stands out Maybe some might find this novel to be cynical and hopeless, everyone is compromised in some way or another, and the only really noble character is a broken husk at the end Still, it s pretty much the truth You just live day by day, knowing the storied past and hoping the present comes to pass if not in your lifetime, but in the lifetime of your descendants. Gave up around 13% of the way in Couldn t muster up the interest to keep reading. My, my have things changes since James Michener finished his novel Hawaii The melting pot he envisioned is lumpy that smooth In this current day novel, a Hawaiian State Senator with a gambling addiction, is seeking to become governor His campaign advisor and mover shaker is a skinny Japanese American who grew up in the public school system This man is a real estate developer by day and a fancy restaurant waiter by night He saves his tip money to invest in and flip condos But being an invisible waiter also allows him to eaves drop on political and investment gossip.A third important character in this diverse grouping is a 3% Hawai ian who unfortunately was blessed with non Hawaiian blonde haole looks He teaches Hawai ian studies at the University and is a champion of the native population The fourth important character is a Hawai ian gangsta This melting pot is stirred and stirred with the characters influenced by outside sources and each other Many past follies inflicted on the Islands are brought up and the current issue is casino gambling If you have visited this beautiful place you will recognize many of the places that you only saw through tourist eyes before The book concludes with a wonderful cultural experience, The Merry Monarch Festival. If I hadn t seen Mark Panek s name on the cover, I would have assumed I was reading a Tom Wolfe novel Maybe Panek is even scathing and cynical than Wolfe, but the style and character of the book reminds me of A Man in Full and others by Wolfe Why this book has not gained wide attention is beyond me Maybe it is because it presents a side of Hawaii that people don t want to consider I had never heard of the book until I stumbled upon it in the westernmost independent bookstore in the US on Kauai, and even there, both salespersons suggested that it somehow picked up where Michener s Hawaii ended Nothing could be remote from the truth Michener and Panek do not belong in the same sentence, despite my having just placed them exactly there While visiting Hawaii, I began to wonder if coming of age here results in a brutal shock than for people on the mainland since so much of the lifestyle seems to focus on ease, beauty, beaches, the sun, etc., and yet if one looks around, there don t appear to be many potential jobs outside of the service industries in a place that is terribly expensive to live The darker side, presented by Panek, answers many of my questions. A huge novel in the classic Tom Wolfe tradition of The Right Stuff, Mark Panek s newest book, Hawai i, a novel, covers it all If you live or have ever lived in Hawai i you ll recognize nearly everything, from the characters to the lives they lead and the situations they find themselves in If you don t live here, read it instead of Michener Cannot recommend this book highly enough. When I started to read this book, I raved about the story line and research involved in getting everything to ring true, include local pidgin and the shady side of politics as well as the rail controversy The book is over 500 pages, though, and by the time I hit about page 350, I had had my fill of corruption, the exaggerated gang banger mentality, the equal opportunity dissing, and the 5 0 action.The writing is excellent The research left little to chance I recommend the novel to anyone interested in learning a bit about the seedier back side of the Islands Just remember to bring your super sized container filled with grains of salt.
After graduating from Colby College over twenty years ago, Mark Panek arrived in Hawai i on a one way ticket with 500 and a surfboard A year later he stepped off the plane in Tokyo similarly underfunded in search of fame, fortune, and fluency in Japanese Letters home depicting his subsequent adventures on an around the world trip eventually led him into a graduate program in creative writing, w
- Kindle Edition
- 568 pages
- Mark Panek
- 12 January 2017 Mark Panek