Ono Ono Girl's Hula

Carolyn Lei-Lanilau, Author University of Wisconsin Press $34.95 (196p) ISBN 978-0-299-15630-5
American Book Award-winning poet (My Way of Speaking) Lei-lanilau's first prose collection is a diatribe, lament, prayer, rant and tease. By turns audacious and funny, angry and exasperated, this provocative, if sometimes confusing, nonlinear collection of short essays unmasks the multiple meanings and contradictions inherent in being of mixed race in an always race-conscious America. Reared in Hawaii by a Chinese mother and native-born Hawaiian Turkish father, Lei-lanilau recalls a childhood home that prized unaccented English, avoiding both Hakka, a dialect spoken by her mother's family, and Hawaiian. Nonetheless, Lei-lanilau picked up snippets of Hakka, Hawaiian and pidgin, the language spoken by the masses of indigenous Hawaiians. Ono Ono Girl, a zany alter-ego for Lei-lanilau, is conversant in each of these languages, as well as French and Latin, and can--and throughout the book does--move between pidgin and the Queen's English with ease. But to what end? ""I want to be healthy, pay my bills, and not be grouchy,"" Ono Ono Girl quips. She's a highly emotional thinker, willing to offend as well as ingratiate. A sexually bold feminist, she is beholden to no single ideology and is full of contradictions: honest and brash, she is also sensitive and insecure. Her ramblings take her to places both public and private, and her first collection introduces the fruits of her investigations. Anger and bitterness are palpable, but humor and a willingness to push boundaries makes this collection both exciting and unsettling. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 196 pages - 978-0-299-15634-3
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