Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Book #26 of 2011: Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell.
It would be nice, I think, if Sarah Vowell added subtitles to her books telling you what they might be about. I already knew, in this case, because I'd read a review, but nonetheless. If you didn't know who she was and you saw this on display somewhere, you'd be hard-pressed to even venture a guess. Granted, we're not supposed to judge by the cover, but generally the title gives you some hint.
Anyway, it's about Hawaii. Specifically, how Americans fucked it up. Though, to be fair, native Hawaiians fucked it up a lot on their own, too, what with the whole incest thing going on in the royal family.
My other pointless gripe about the book is that she didn't bother dividing it into chapters. I'm not sure I've ever read a book that didn't have chapters before (except for picture books when I was 4, I guess). This would not be a problem if the book still felt organized and clear, but that was not the case.
It was a bit rambly.
Oh, one more pointless gripe: I don't know how to pronounce Hawaiian names. I appreciate your little note in the beginning about how you took out some apostrophes and left some apostrophes in and all that, but, while you were at it, could you maybe have told me how to pronounce these things so I didn't have to dwell on each name trying to sound it out in my head? I mean, Kamehameha is one thing, but Kaluaikoolau? Kealakekua? Keopuolani? Kauikeaouli? Also, am I really supposed to be able to keep these straight?
Between the confusing names and the fact that I have little context stored in my head for dates ranging across the 1800s, I'm surprised I got anything out of it. But, I did enjoy reading it and it was an interesting tale, even if some specifics were lost on me. Not her best, but not bad.