Exploring Hawaii’s rich and rugged history in Edwards | VailDaily.com

Exploring Hawaii’s rich and rugged history in Edwards

Stephen Bedford
Daily Correspondent
Edwards, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

EDWARDS, Colorado ” During the past few years author Alan Brennert, who will appear in Edwards Thursday, has spent a considerable amount of his time all over Hawaii, but it’s hardly a balancing act of luaus and lagoons, sand and surf.

“I spend most of my time in the basement of a public library, pouring over microfilm of old newspapers,” Brennert said. “It’s not exactly the most thrilling vacation.”

Although not quite the sexy answer most would expect, the results of being a library hermit in Hawaii are immeasurable. Brennert is the author of the national bestseller “Moloka’i,” and his recent release “Honolulu,” a historical novel of the island state’s capital city.

Brennert will discuss his novels via Skypecast Thursday night at The Bookworm of Edwards. “Moloka’i” is among the store’s all-time bestselling novels and a fixture on the local book club circuit.

Both novels explore Hawaii’s rich and somewhat rugged history, which is often lost among the glossy brochures promising paradise and picturesque sunsets. “Moloka’i” is set on the island that once served as a leper colony while “Honolulu” examines the ethnicity that comprised the city’s early years.

“It’s the job of the state’s tourism bureau to sell a world of paradise,” Brennert said. “Tourism is the state’s leading business, and I don’t think visitors necessarily need to be reminded that Hawaii is a real place with real struggles like anywhere else in the world.

“Firstly, people are coming to visit a beautiful place, but I think reading and knowing the history can add a different dimension when people come to visit.”

After the success of “Moloka’i,” Brennert thought writing “Honolulu” would be somewhat of a breeze given all his prior research. He was sorely mistaken, and even had to track down a phone book from the time period to help him reconstruct the city’s layout.

“This [writing ‘Honolulu’] was much harder than I thought,” Brennert said. “I naively thought that since I had so much research already that it would translate to this novel, but I really should have known better.”

Brennert doesn’t just trace the city’s rise, beginning in 1914, but also traces Korean history via Jin, his idealistic protagonist who escapes the harsh social structure of her native land for the opportunities of the burgeoning Hawaiian city.

“Honolulu” represents the culture clash of Hawaii, Brennert said, with its popularity as a tourist destination for the rich and famous taking off as the city also became a haven for Asian immigrants, all the while still trying to hold on to its proud native heritage.

“Honolulu is such a rich, diverse and multicultural city,” Brennert said. “Honolulu has really started to look a lot like the rest of the United States.”

Stephen Bedford is a Bookworm employee.

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