Sagas

 

It took 4 weeks of steady reading. I’ve finished James Michener’s Hawaii. Now I wonder what the word count is for the novel. I did a little poking around online, but couldn’t find the resource that shows this. This book is over 900 pages long with tiny print (8 point font or smaller). It was written towards the end of the time when books could meander along verbosely and keep their readers pulled in – before television and movies shortened our attention spans so much.

Hawaii did pull me in. Despite the fact it was published 50 years ago (around the same time Hawaii achieved statehood), it stands that test of time. The most difficult part is that the book has all this interesting stuff going on yet there’s so much more to go. There are many places this book could have ended. Instead, Michener went on to the next step of the state’s growth and cultural clash/interaction/melding.

The novel stabs into many things – self righteous Christians, human sacrifice, Chinese cultural foot wrapping for women, the loss of the native Hawaiian culture, the imported Japanese who never gave up hope for their country even after given evidence to the contrary, feudalism, agriculture, music, leprosy, and segregation. The book narrator looks at the island’s history objectively yet with a slightly avuncular perception.

Hawaii is an excellent book. It tests a modern reader’s patience, though. Normally if I’m able to devote reading time to a book, I can read it in 3 or 4 days. Not this one. There were also times I had to break away to read something quicker and lighter. I read this around 35 or 40 years ago. I remember parts, but there was so much I had forgotten. Michener dug under the crust and gave the reader a good historical view of the state in a fiction format.