As we edited Honolulu Weekly’s Winter Books issue, news broke of the Penguin/Random House merger that will produce the world’s largest book publisher. More consolidation of the industry will follow-- a gloomy prospect for aspiring and established authors alike. All the more reason to appreciate and support our Hawai‘i literary landscape, which this season has showered us with a rich array of outstanding books, all by local writers or on local themes. Chris McKinney’s Boi No Good is his strongest novel to date, delivering an unsparing overview of Island society. Boi, the child of an addict, is a murderer and a cop who’s filled with hate--yet also a loving father. A deluded revolutionary, he tries to blow up Waikiki to beat “that devil, the one who brought the white man to Hawaii, the one who killed off all the natives, the one who’s working on turning this island into a six-hundred-square-mile tropical resort donut built on the bones of past people . . .” The contrast with another book that arrived on my desk, the memoirs of the sweet, pious Henry Opukai‘ia, got me thinking about what makes a good or bad boy (or girl)--and reminded me of another Hawai‘i-born writer, Barack Obama, who told us that he did inhale--yet still got elected President.
Writers are born of readers, and reading is all about understanding different people and places and judging–for yourself–what’s wrong or right, or both. Stories give our lives their shape, and you’ll find plenty to enjoy, fact and fiction, in this issue.