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James Michener
christiki295
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Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3817
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2005-01-11 7:41 pm   Permalink

Has anyone read South Pacific?

[ This Message was edited by: christiki295 on 2005-01-11 19:53 ]


 
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christiki295
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Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3817
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2005-01-11 7:48 pm   Permalink

I was turned on to "Hawaii" by Atomic Cocktail AND WHAT A READ IT IS!

The story captivates one's heart. It makes one laugh, cry, and it is impossible to put down.

Michner captures the eruption of the Hawaiian islands, provides a very plausible story regarding the reasons why the Tahitians left Bora - Bora (not the Marquesas) and of the interplay of the whalers and missionaries and the resulting decline of native Hawaiian culture.

It omits any reference to any tiki Gods (a glaring omission) and only makes an insufficient reference to Pele, although does reference the night walkers.

He also seems to skip over the Hawaiian kings past Kamehameha I.

However, the yarns he weaves are captivating and he makes his characters come alive.


 
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christiki295
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Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3817
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2005-01-11 7:48 pm   Permalink

I can't imagine making a movie version of Hawaii and skipping the Hula scenes (Tahitian hula) and the island drums, as he describes them at the beginning of the story.

It would make the beginning of "Rapa Nui" seem like a PG rated film.

[ This Message was edited by: christiki295 on 2005-01-11 19:52 ]


 
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The Monitors
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Joined: Apr 08, 2003
Posts: 254
From: The ILL streets of Santa Clarita, CA
Posted: 2005-01-12 01:22 am   Permalink

I read "Tales of the South Pacific" and loved it. It took me a while to read it only because i never wanted it to end. I loved it so much that I bought the follow up book "Return to the south pacific" However, I haven't had time to read it yet. Has anyone read it and could you give a review.
_________________
The Monitors


 
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kittenhead
Member

Joined: Dec 15, 2004
Posts: 10
From: Squaresville
Posted: 2005-01-12 9:58 pm   Permalink

I've not read any of Michener's fiction, but one for my "who knew" files was finding a book he had written about Japanese prints called "The Floating World" at a local used book store. As this is a subject dear to my heart, I must admit I had to step back and reassess a writer I had previously labeled (for no good reason, really) a book-churning hack. I know, unfair, but as a bookseller you tend to make these kind of snap judgements about writers based on who reads them.

At any rate, "Hawaii" and "Tales of the South Pacific" are now on my (2 miles long) "to be read" list.

-kittenhead


 
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Kenike
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Joined: Jul 24, 2003
Posts: 1205
From: McKinney, TX
Posted: 2005-01-13 5:51 pm   Permalink

Quote:
It takes a while to read such a long novel but it's worth it.



I'm reading "Hawaii" now and it's 1000+ pages, I've got about 100 more pages to go. EXCELLENT book. I just read the part where a tsunami hits the islands... Michner's description is eerily close to what we've been watching on TV the last couple of weeks.

I've also read "Tales of the South Pacific" and "Return To Paradise."


 
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Kono
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Joined: Oct 08, 2003
Posts: 1266
From: Orlando
Posted: 2005-01-13 6:30 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2005-01-11 19:48, christiki295 wrote:
It omits any reference to any tiki Gods (a glaring omission) and only makes an insufficient reference to Pele, although does reference the night walkers.




Christiki, the whole bit about them leaving Bora Bora is about their gods. Its about how they reject the cult of Oro and cling to the worship of Tane and Ta'aroa. Then when they get to Hawaii its all about Pele. Pele figures prominently into the story even into the missionary era.

I've read more than a dozen or so Hawaiian/Polynesian mythology books but I've gotten a greater understanding of their religion from Michener's "Hawaii" as in how religion must've played a part in their daily lives.

The book is outstanding. He really makes you understand how all of the different cultures (Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Haole) make up what Hawaii is and is not. I'll never think of the term "Beach Boy" the same again after reading this book.

Yes, Michener did tell us, in this book, how to recognize that a tsumani is imminent. Great book. Read it!


 
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christiki295
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Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3817
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2005-01-18 7:48 pm   Permalink

Aloha Kono,

True enough and, yes, Pele, Ku and Lono are all refernced, but what I was hoping to read about was the conflict between the missionaries and the large, imposing tiki statutes, such as those at the Bishop Museum.



Atomic Cocktail's superb Hawaiian history website

http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/kona/history1h.htm

revealed the following on Tiki history:

In 1823 the Reverend William Ellis

took a sketch of one of the idols [on the ruins of the heiau Ahuena at Kailua], which stood sixteen feet above the wall, was upwards of three feet in breadth, and had been carved out of a single tree. The above may be considered as a tolerable specimen of the greater part of Hawaiian idols. The head has generally a most horrid appearance, the mouth being large and usually extended wide, exhibiting a row of large teeth, resembling in no small degree the cogs in the wheel of an engine, and adapted to excite terror rather than inspire confidence in the beholder. Some of their idols were of stone, and many were constructed with a kind of wickerwork covered with red feathers. . .

(There's more on the website)



[ This Message was edited by: christiki295 on 2005-01-19 20:53 ]


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Satan's Sin
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Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 729
From: Imperial Beach, CA
Posted: 2005-01-19 08:14 am   Permalink

I want to thank this thread for reminding me how good of a writer Michener was when he started out. And, imho, "Tales of the South Pacific" was one of the great pillars that gave rise to Polynesian Pop. Let's face it, it was the men who came home from World War II and started their families and careers who were the first patrons of tiki bars. "Tales of the South Pacific" surely reminded them of their brief but intense tastes of the Souh Seas, and tiki bars were surely a natural outgrowth of this. And then, when the movie "South Pacific" came along, it was time for their wives to join in on the action, and so Polynesian restaurants and hotels were born.

Michener's last novels I find to be absolutely dreadful. Long, long, LONG descriptions, like being stuck in a classroom again, and characters who were either dirty and wicked or brilliant and moral and courageous, nothing in between. Guess which characters triumphed. Ugh.


 
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Thomas
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Joined: Mar 15, 2005
Posts: 372
From: Lake Mojave
Posted: 2006-05-02 02:06 am   Permalink

Michener is definitely a towering figure in general, and also specifically in terms his role in "mid-century Polynesian pop." Both the book and movie, "Hawaii" meant a lot to me. I think it merits noting here that a second film, "The Hawaiians," starring Charlton Heston, was made in 1970; it can be viewed as a kind of sequel to "Hawaii" as it follows the next generations and is also derived from Michener's book. Those of us into "late-century Hawaiian pop" will also enjoy seeing many familiar faces, e.g. from Hawaii Five-O and the like, in it. Making a "double feature" of these two films does occur as an idea.

What I really want to do here though is suggest a look at Michener's memoir, "The World is My Home: A Memoir" (1992). I won't go into it much here; suffice it to say that Michener had a truly extraordinary perspective on the Pacific island people at that epochal time in history, and as we know he made great use of it. Basically he went everywhere on the government's dime and chronicled what he saw -- not as an artistic endeavor in his spare time, but because that was his job. In this very straightforward recollection, he shares some unforgettable impressions and anecdotes of that time.

I noticed (and agree with) the positive comments by others about his books dealing with Hawaii and Polynesia, so felt a need to point this one out too. If you're into it, check it out, I don't think you'll be disappointed. Note, though, that it is not all about the Pacific, it is a comprehensive memoir of his remarkable life. Those not interested in the broader story might just want to read the first part and skim over the rest.

Let me take the liberty here of sharing a passage from his memoir; he was still new to the area and had just touched down in British Samoa:
**
The next hour was one of the most wonderful of my life, for as we headed eastward on a coral-topped road as smooth as Navy engineers could make it with their huge scrapers, we had on our left that flawless beach with small white-sand coves appearing here and there, lined by the tallest palm trees I had ever seen. There was no monotony to the road, for we were in the hour before sunset, and a golden light suffused everything, edging the palms with iridescent fronds against the deep blue sky. Even the waves that reached the shore not twenty feet from us as we drove seemed kindly, with no hint of the way storms could lash them into a fury.

But even if nature had not conspired to make the shoreline incomparably lovely, views inland would have made this journey to Apia unforgettable, because perched in the midst of huge coconut plantations stood tiny villages, or more typically, collections of two or three of the most exquisite human habitations I had ever seen. On moderately high stone platforms generous in size and built of coral rock perfectly fitted to produce a firm level foundation, stood the famous Samoan fales whose name was so reminiscent of the character of Polynesian life. Fale in Samoa, hale in Hawaii, whare in New Zealand, the word is always the same and pronounced pretty much the same ... But if a Samoan fale is beautiful to hear pronounced -- fah-lay -- it is even more so to the eye, because it is roofed by palm fronds woven into exquisite patterns and supported by seven or eight huge upright coconut trunks that show golden when the sun strikes them. The fale is thus a kind of huge altar set upon a handsome platform, and its salient characteristic is that is has no walls; the upright coconut trunks stand like pillars or a committee of ancient gods convened to oversee the behavior of the mortals who occupy that platform.

Privacy is obtained at night by pulling chords that drop wide curtains made from woven fibers taken from the coconut palms, and when one sees those curtains fall gracefully at night, one has the feeling that peace and benediction have descended upon that house. An unbroken chain of Samoan fales at dusk, strung out under the palms and not concentrated in villages, is a sight of humanity at its aesthetic best and a warming reassurance that not all humans are either ugly or stupid, for the ancient people who devised that pattern of living were artists of the highest order.

But I am not being completely accurate. What really made the first drive along the Samoan lagoons so unforgettable was not the domestic architecture on the right but the human spectacle on the left. As night approached, men and women from the fales came down to bathe and, throwing off their sarongs, waded out into the soft white breakers to splash themselves with water and frolic aimlessly in the ocean for a while before settling down for the night...
**

[ This Message was edited by: Thomas 2006-05-02 02:58 ]


 
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Tiki Chris
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Joined: Mar 24, 2002
Posts: 1543
From: London
Posted: 2006-05-02 04:57 am   Permalink

Nice post, Thomas.

I have a copy of Michener's memoir that I'm saving for a rainy day (which shouldn't be a problem now that I'm living in London again).

Have you read Iberia? It's a very young Michener's personal travelogue from 1960's Spain. Incredible stuff.

Take care,
Chris


 
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tekoteko
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Joined: Jun 20, 2005
Posts: 299
From: The Abyss.
Posted: 2006-05-02 09:56 am   Permalink

When this thread popped up about a year ago I headed out to the half priced book shop and got Hawaii and Tales of the South Pacific. I thought that Hawaii was the better of the two books...talk about a story line that will keep you up at all hours of the night! Tales... was a little more work for me to read through, and took quite a bit longer for me due to lack of interest...but once I got going in it again after a brief layoff I was quickly captivated and couldn't put it down. All in all I think Michener is one heck of an author...I think I'll pick up "Caribbean" today .

...and in my humble opinion, Kon-Tiki was okay, but nothing compared to the two Michener works.

Tekoteko


 
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bb moondog
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Joined: Apr 18, 2006
Posts: 492
From: Gilbert AZ
Posted: 2006-05-02 10:02 am   Permalink

Caribbean is really good--can get kinda dry like much of Michener but there are great pirate history & story sequences in it... definitely pour a few shot of rhum for yourself as you read it.... and it WILLL be a few, as it is seemingly a MILLION PAGES long.
Hey..my parents had a lot of the Heyerdahl books & I shunned them as a kid..now I am reading them & I DIG them--they too get a bit stuffy but are generally worth it...AKU AKU has a lot of great Easter Island pix & you can find an old paper back of it for chump change at virtually every thrift shop in America...sadly.


 
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tekoteko
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Joined: Jun 20, 2005
Posts: 299
From: The Abyss.
Posted: 2006-05-02 3:15 pm   Permalink

Thanks for the head's up on the other Michener novels...I figured on it getting dry at points. I'm going to go out and pick up Caribbean tonight .

 
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Thomas
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 15, 2005
Posts: 372
From: Lake Mojave
Posted: 2006-05-12 2:24 pm   Permalink

I happen to have just seen that THE HAWAIIANS, a 1970 movie based on Michener's book (and which can be seen as a sequel to HAWAII) that I mention in my post above, is being aired on TCM Sunday, May 14, 2006, 12:15 a.m. (Pac. time...). More broadly (as this message will soon be obsolete), it can be assumed that this movie reappears from time to time on that station.

Is it a great movie? No. Is it tiki? No. But it is filmed in Hawaii and features many familiar Asian and Pacific American actors such as Keye Luke. If you remember Hawaii Five-0 you'll also get a kick out of seeing Khigh Dhiegh ("Wo Fat"!) and Herman Wedemeyer ("Duke") among others.

I seem to recall Al Harrington in a minor role, but this is not corroborated by IMDB.


 
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