Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Pacific Books that 'influenced' me.

The books I read growing up were my older siblings leftovers, my mother's treasured collection and books that palagis left on our rickety library shelves.
Some were uneventful or too complicated for my limited faa-engrand, but some remain etched in the back of my coconut head.
Some affected me so in my writing and my thinking....ia ua lelei Dr. Aivaleach.
One of those books was "My Samoan Chief" by Fay Alailima.
It was one of the first few 'big people' books I read from start to finish and I was inspired.
This was a story by the author about her own personal experience, courting a Samoan chief. I fell inlove with her story and her chief, and as I read through her lens of Samoa, I saw a different picture from what I knew... and I was hopeful....and in awe.
Now looking back, I hope palagi women don't read this and think that all Samoan chiefs are as brilliant (and hot) like Leiataua...nooooo way, he was one of a kind.
Every time we go to kua to Salani, I am reminded of this author's journey in the days when roads were non- existent to kua and afakasi children played in the forest.
hmmm, what a thought (:

Lagaga by Malama Meleisea was the book every History student in Samoa College needed to plaigiase and reword. It was a short, concise and thankfully easy to read History of Samoa. This was so important to me in Year 12, until Leota Ituau Ale, a former politician walked into our lives and challenged us to 'question' these historical accounts  - and it made me realise- wow, there is soooo much more we don't know!...and how sad that much of our oral histories will never be retold?
Which is why it is crucial to have a copy of earlier account, like the 1928 book by Sir Peter Buck on Samoan Material Culture and Dr Kramer's The Samoa Islands and the faalupega.

For light reading, I found Sia Figiel entertaining, painfully true and very very FUNNY! While this was fictitious set up and characters, everything about her stories took me back to Matautu Tai - which is the author's non fiction village, and the ever present pulu tree, still there, and the prying eyes of the faikakala neighbours. I loved my days at my good friend's home - and her backyard that was the blue ocean. When I read SIa's books, it was beautiful, because I already had the setting glued to my memories and I already knew about the neighbours, and the beach and the nearby wharf that was the notorious spot for 'transactional' exchanges.

I never managed my way through the "Pacific Way". I will attempt that again this year.
Epeli Hauofa's Sea of Islands will always be my pride and joy.
Of course, Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa is a good read. Sorry guys but despite the questions around her findings, she still protrayed some truths and are worth reading about. Read with a pinch of salt,....lemon and tequila shot.
Who else influenced me with their writings?
Tate Simi's poem about Being Samoan is another work of art....and food for thought.

I am getting Palagi Tafaovale to read in the weekend - and then will note what I think.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to Lani Wendt's book about the tsunami that should be out this year,...can't wait!

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