What would Yoda do?

Lee Tonouchi’s “Some Kind of Jedi” is by far my favorite piece of fiction in the current issue of BAMBOO RIDGE. As often happens in Tonouchi’s work, where you begin is in no way an indication of where you’ll go, or where you’ll end up. “Some Kind of Jedi” takes its readers from the minor dramas of a local workplace through a whirlwind of topics: potluck etiquette, Jehovah’s Witnesses, a local dad’s sly frugality, the Way of the Jedi, Dog the Bounty Hunter, politicians’ broken promises, Star Wars Hana Hou, and the precise definition of “shooooooots.”

Of course this all happens in Tonouchi’s signature guerrilla-pidgin style. He’s perfected that kolohe humor — it’s like the way your hilarious uncle tells stories at family parties. After a while the shifting ground of Tonouchi’s subject matter might make readers start to wonder where things are going, but the pure entertainment of the pidgin wit saves it.

But the reason Tonouchi is more than an entertaining storyteller is that when you look closely, there is so much going on in this seemingly random collection of musings and anecdotes. Tonouchi addresses a range of issues that are incredibly relevant to life in Hawaiʻi today, from voter apathy to generational conflict to finding religion to how-to-talk-to-your-fresh-from-the-mainland-boss. In essence, Tonouchi paints us a recognizable picture of life in a Hawaiʻi buckling under the pressures of globalization. And he has recommendations.

Rather than giving in to despair, Tonouchi’s narrator finds his own quirky and creative ways to start taking control of his life and make positive changes for Hawaiʻi, starting with the people around him and the little things he holds dear. What would Star Wars look like if local people had written it? What wisdom can a local guy learn from jedi masters? In the face of canceled Christmas parties and the real-world fact that Kikaida doesn’t grown on trees, Tonouchi asks, what would Yoda do?

To read Tonouchi?s story, go here and get issue #98 of BAMBOO RIDGE. The book can be ordered online right now at one-third off the cover price!

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