Islands Linked by Ocean pre-launch

Alternate title: "If you didn’t come to the pre-launch at KCC, definitely come to the book launch at UH on March 19th!"

The number one reason why you should arrive at Bamboo Ridge readings as soon as the reception begins:

The Great Condom Race!

I unfortunately cannot give a personal account of what transpired, but the wreckage tableau was definitely thought-provoking: a box full of condoms and shot glasses scattered on a soaked tablecloth.

Before Lisa Linn Kanae began reading to the Ka Ikena dining room packed with over eighty people, one of the people she thanked was her husband, who “ran to Longs last-minute to buy thirty condoms … and he never even win.”

She started things off with a bang, reading “Sassy” — which contains the story of the Great Condom Race — as her first selection. I was immediately charmed; her reading style is as effervescent as an Alka-Seltzer tablet fizzing madly in a shot glass whose rim is covered by a condom.

Her next selection was the first half of “The Steersman”. The story begins with a lot of swearing, and she read each word with gusto, cheered on by giggles as well as outright laughter. When she got to the part about “a brain damage-inducing 80 strokes per minute”, someone in the crowd exclaimed “ooooooh” and then “80 strokes per minute, man!” Audience participation at its joyous best.

Lisa is a fantastic reader, warm and witty and funny. In her reading of “The Steersman” alone, she employed different voices for different characters, made sound effects (the written “phoooooo” was translated as blowing into the microphone), and sang. She even created new poetry while simultaneously reading her words: “Kalakaua Avenue starlight – ah streetlight”. She spoke to her audience frequently, and this is only one of several memorable asides: “exple-exple – I can’t even say the g**d*mn word!” After the audience had laughed at several occasions, she declared, “I like when you guys laugh, I can drink water”, and then did just that.

She stopped at the end of the first half within “The Steersman”, and the audience cried “Hana hou! Hana hou!” However, they quickly quieted down when Keith Kashiwada and Alissa Kashiwada stepped to the podium to read "Born Again Hawaiian". When Keith said, “‘I’ll call you Manu if you call me … Dragon. Master Shaolin Dragon.’ He lifted his arms like wings assuming a ‘crane’ pose; he didn’t know how to do a dragon”, he followed in Lisa’s footsteps by adding his own physical flair to the words. (Imagine Keith doing the Karate Kid crane kick stance here.)

Lisa’s last selection was the ending of “The Steersman”. In the bay window behind Lisa, the evening turned into night, the streetlights burned tiny and bright, and car headlights winked past. As the reading wound down, the once-boisterous room became quieter and the audience was utterly silent, absorbing her every word, an experience as “rare as beauty, truth, and magic combined in a single moment”.

The story ended, Lisa thanked everyone for coming, and the spell lifted: people stood up, started chatting, lined up to get Lisa’s signature, and lined up to get one last wine glass before heading off into the night.

Talk story

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