cover image Every Drop Is a Man’s Nightmare

Every Drop Is a Man’s Nightmare

Megan Kamalei Kakimoto. Bloomsbury, $27.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-63973-116-9

Kakimoto interweaves themes of sexual desire and fertility with Hawaiian mythology in her unflinching debut collection. In the title story, 12-year-old Sadie transports pork leftovers from a party via the Pali Highway, risking the wrath of Kamapua‘a, the Hawaiian fire goddess Pele’s ex-lover, who is half man, half pig and curses anyone bringing pork over the old Pali road. Sadie’s transgression may have incurred a lifetime of bad luck, beginning when her family’s car hits a wild boar. Years later, the injured pig mysteriously replaces Sadie’s baby in the child’s bassinet. “Hotel Molokai” recalls the time the 13-year-old narrator’s grandmother brought her to visit family on the island and make a pilgrimage to a sacred rock imbued with powerful fertility magic. Thinking of her abused cousin, a teenage boy, the narrator wonders why her family should want more children when they don’t take good care of the ones they have. In “Ms. Amelia’s Salon for Women in Charge,” working-poor Kehaulani, whose banker boyfriend likes her to get her genitals waxed, goes to a new salon where she must choose a personality trait to give up in exchange for her waxing. Marked by a wry sense of humor and an unerring touch for the surreal, Kakimoto’s stories add up to a powerful exploration of gender, class, race, colonialism, and domestic violence. This eloquent outing marks Kakimoto as a writer to watch. Agent: Iwalani Kim, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (Aug.)