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From the author of SISTA TONGUE come stories written with humor and compassion that give voice to characters who find themselves at crossroad moments where past informs present, young teach old, and love can mean holding on or letting go. In “The Steersman,” a novice paddler shares her tempestuous yet life-affirming introduction to the tradition of outrigger canoe paddling: “…in the canoe, we were nameless. We were numbers, and when we weren’t numbers, we were random expletives—scrub, donkey, idiot, stupid, jackass, lame ass, dumb ass....” In “Born Again Hawaiian,” a young husband discovers how the personal impacts the political when his activist wife shows him how he must fight for what he loves most. And what happens when three local women take in the opera? “Dat suckah Pavarotti—he get um.”
The stories in this collection are familiar, like family. And like the father and daughter in the title story, the stories in ISLANDS LINKED BY OCEAN are “told and retold until the words swim through the listener’s veins and turn into blood.”
Born and raised on O‘ahu, Lisa Linn Kanae is the author of SISTA TONGUE, a memoir/essay that weaves the social history of Hawai‘i Creole English with personal experience. Kanae’s prose and poetry have been published in ‘OIWI: A NATIVE HAWAIIAN JOURNAL, HYBOLICS, TINFISH, HAWAI‘I PACIFIC REVIEW and Bamboo Ridge Press publications. She teaches composition and literature at Kapi‘olani Community College.
Excerpt from “Sassy” in Lisa Linn Kanae's Islands Linked by Ocean
"When I say go," Toots announced, "drop the Alka-Seltzer in the water and fit your rubber on top of the shot glass. The rubber that--" Toots winked and grinned "--rises first wins!"
The women held their seltzer tablets and condoms as if they were readying forks and knives. On the count of three, Toots lowered a linen napkin like a green flag, and they plopped their Alka-Seltzer tablets into the water. Effervescence spit and sputtered to the surface of each shot glass.
Claire fumbled with her condom, looking up every two seconds to spy on the competition. To her surprise, her grandmother, aunties and mother knew how to stretch open and snap a condom's lip onto the perfect O of a shot glass. They also knew how to pinch a condom's lip like the toe of a baby's bootie. And then, like mad scientists waiting for monsters to rise off the laboratory table, they watched the condoms fill with Alka-Seltzer gas.
"They're alive!" Toots yelled. "They're alive!"
The ladies hooted and whooped like bunch of bachelors on a Friday night at Club Rock-Za until Dottie's condom slowly tilted like a late afternoon shadow.
"Gunfunnit," Dottie yelled. "Mine stay defective. I like one new one."
Auntie Mae's condom flopped rabbit ear lazy. "Look at mine," Mae yelled, laughing so hard she could hardly speak. "Could use some of my Centrum."
Auntie Trixy's condom inflated into a wide elongated bell. "What I going do with this thing? Make Christmas ornament for sell at the craft fair?"
Suddenly, Sunny's condom shot from flaccid to NASA rocket and launched off her shot glass. Everyone at the table shrieked like little girls.
"Just like your Kawehi, I bet," Toots said to Sunny. "You know what they say. If no can control, gotta hana hou."
Excerpt from "The Steersman"
Long before the image of a moon above Diamond Head had become the darling of aloha shirts, postcards or ninety-nine-cent calendars sold at Longs Drugs, long before there were enough hotels to create a Waikiki skyline at night, there was the ocean and the Hawaiian outrigger canoe. I knew what I saw from where I was sitting was rare as beauty, truth, and magic combined in a single moment.