Review: Orchids and Memories
This comprises this second request I’ve received via my blog for a review, and I have to say this was a MUCH happier experience for me. The author’s representative gave me the option for either a mobi or PDF version, and was very professional generally. Then too, I have a soft spot for travel accounts, having written my college honor’s thesis comparing Mme de Stael and Heinrich Heine, and their displaced senses of place, each having left their homelands for various reasons.
The 28 pages of this little gem conveyed such a concrete depiction of Molokai, I could almost smell the lush surroundings as a reader. The introduction shares a grandchild’s love and family pride and states that in fact, these pieces were authored by her grandfather and only lightly edited for continuity.
I suppose if I were to be consistent, I could point out that here too, there were a handful of typos and a few spots where there could have been another editing pass, but the stories were so beautiful it’s easy for me to forgive those small trespasses. The three tales span the expanse of a lifetime, with the perspectives of a 12-year-old, a 20-something, and a 50-something encompassed within them.
Even the illustrations provided by the granddaughter, presented in almost woodcut style in black and white, augmented the simple truths of greatly devout and devoted individuals portrayed within the pages. In the first story, one of the particularly telling passages that really moved me in its loss of innocence after witnessing the brutality of a cock-fight:
“Like feeding sharks, the people had gone into an uncontrolled frenzy that was terminated only by the specter of death. The competitiveness, the violence, the extreme agitation, the savagery and brutality totally masked all human reason. For the first time, I understood God’s intent for the Ten Commandments. Man needed guidance. God knew that predatory violence was man’s fatal weakness, that man’s disregard for precious life could eventually lead to extinction.”
The sense of reverence portrayed not only for the environment but also for the long-time relationships that comprised the formative basis for the personality relating the tales carries throughout the entire piece. Molokai’s fight against commercialism could have been a preachy screed against corporatist plutocracy, but read as a dedication to the preservation of community values.
This small collection is absolutely worth the dollar it costs at Amazon for anyone who wants the perspective of the Hawaiian minority or the sense of place of an outstanding memoir.