MLA Gold Award Site

Excerpt from Honolulu by Alan Brennert, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


by Alan Brennert

  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2009, 368 pages
    Feb 2010, 464 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

I never wished to see this in practice, much less partake of it, but Jae-sun had a yen to cook it and none of the local fish markets bothered to stock something as small and unprofitable as a minnow.

Then one day he came home triumphant from his morning pilgrimage, proudly showing me not only twenty pounds of fresh skipjack, but a large bottle filled with water and teeming with tiny live minnows. “Look!” he cried out. “They are not mudfish, but they will do.”

“Did you find these at the fish market?”

“No, I finally used my head. I went down to the docks yesterday and searched for a fisherman who would sell his catch to me directly, at a lower cost. I found a man with a small boat who said he’d be willing, if I committed to buy a certain amount each week.” He opened the brown butcher paper covering a three-pound bonito. “This is of excellent quality, as you see.” “And you asked him to catch you some minnows?”

“He uses them for bait, so he gave me a jarful with his compliments. I can’t wait to cook these up for a luncheon treat!” He took out a large skillet, which would shortly become the instrument of doom for the tiny wriggling fish.

“Ah,” I said, “as it happens, I am having lunch with Beauty today.” This was a lie, of course, but one I could make true easily enough.

“But this is a rare delicacy, and delicious!”

I slipped out of the kitchen before the butter greased the skillet.

While Jae-sun feasted on bait, Beauty was happy to share some fried rice with me at Sai Fu’s Chop Sui House on Hotel Street. Panama Dave had swept her off her feet with his wit, romantic soul, and gentleness toward Mary, and she had fallen quickly and hopelessly in love with him. I was happy for her—Heaven knew she deserved some romance and laughter in her life—but when she began telling us at kye meetings about what “they” would do once they were married, Wise Pearl tactfully inquired whether Panama had actually asked for her hand.

“Not yet,” Beauty admitted, “but I’m sure he will.”

Now, months later, Beauty was fretting that the proposal still was not forthcoming. I suggested, as gently as I could, that perhaps Panama was simply not the “marrying kind.”

“Oh no, you don’t know him, he’s so sweet,” she protested. “A man can be sweet and loving and still not be interested in marriage.”

“He loves Mary. You see how good he is with her. He loves children.”

“He has a childlike spirit, it’s true,” I said delicately, “and I’m sure he cares for Mary. But that does not necessarily mean he wants to be a father, or husband.”

Beauty fell into a sullen pout and I elected to change the subject.

I returned to the cafe, where my husband was extolling the savory flavor of his tubu soup. He had saved me some, and I had to admit that it was tasty, as was the other fish he had purchased. We served it spiced and barbecued for bulgogi or grilled in a miso sauce. Thus began a long, fruitful business relationship, with our weekly order increasing steadily. After perhaps six weeks, Jae-sun came home with thirty pounds of bonito, yellowtail, and albacore, and with a certain diffidence he told me, “I’ve invited our supplier to the restaurant with his family. He only purchased this boat last year and I believe they struggle to make ends meet. I thought they might appreciate a taste of the fruit of his labors.”

“We should prepare them something special, then.”

Excerpted from Honolulu by Alan Brennert, Copyright © 2009 by Alan Brennert. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press, a division of Macmillan, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Atomic Weight of Love
    The Atomic Weight of Love
    by Elizabeth Church
    A prologue set in 2011 introduces readers to this novel's unforgettable narrator. Meridian ...
  • Book Jacket: Murder at the 42nd Street Library
    Murder at the 42nd Street Library
    by Con Lehane
    It doesn't matter if you're stopping in your favorite library to quickly pick up a book, or settling...
  • Book Jacket: The Loney
    The Loney
    by Andrew Hurley
    Landscape can be a writer's best friend. Whether it's the mountains of England's lake...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Dark Lady's Mask
    by Mary Sharratt

    Based on the life of the first professional woman poet in Renaissance England, and her collaboration with Shakespeare.

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Win this book!
Win The Children

From NYT bestselling author Ann Leary

The captivating story of an unconventional New England family.


Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart

An enthralling novel based on the forgotten true adventures of one of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Word Play

Solve this clue:

I I A Greek T M

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.