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Punahou Blues Paperback – May 6, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The best novel of Hawaii I've read...ever. --Maui Weekly

Wright's believable and smooth-reading story touches on the complexities of multicultural Hawaii in the 60s and 70s, Killahaole Day, prejudices against (and within) Punahou High School, and the then tricky matter of interracial dating. --Honolulu Advertiser

Wright does a good job of depicting the racial tensions between haoles (whites) and the indigenous Hawaiians, and of illustrating the challenge for characters like Jeffrey who as products of mixed-race marriages must try to bridge the two cultures and overcome prejudices from both camps. --Palo Alto Weekly

A fascinating coming of age novel that goes further inside Punahou School than anything I've come across so far. --David Maraniss, author of BARACK OBAMA: THE STORY

Wright does a good job of depicting the racial tensions between haoles (whites) and the indigenous Hawaiians, and of illustrating the challenge for characters like Jeffrey who as products of mixed-race marriages must try to bridge the two cultures and overcome prejudices from both camps. --Palo Alto Weekly

About the Author

Kirby Wright was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a graduate of Punahou School in Honolulu and the University of California at San Diego. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, where he studied under the tutelage of Frances Mayes. Wright has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and is a past recipient of the Ann Fields Poetry Prize, the Academy of American Poets Award, the Browning Society Award for Dramatic Monologue, and Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowships in Poetry and The Novel. BEFORE THE CITY, WrightÂ’s first book of poetry, took First Place at the 2003 San Diego Book Awards.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Lemon Shark Press; 1st edition (May 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0974106712
  • ISBN-13: 978-0974106717
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,548,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kirby Wright was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a graduate of Punahou School in Honolulu and the University of California at San Diego. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Wright has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and is a past recipient of the Jodi Stutz Memorial Prize in Poetry, the Ann Fields Poetry Prize, the Academy of American Poets Award, the Robert Browning Award for Dramatic Monologue, and Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowships in Poetry and The Novel. BEFORE THE CITY, his first poetry collection, took First Place at the 2003 San Diego Book Awards. Wright is also the author of the companion novels PUNAHOU BLUES and MOLOKA'I NUI AHINA, both set in Hawaii. He was a Visiting Fellow at the 2009 International Writers Conference in Hong Kong, where he represented the Pacific Rim region of Hawaii. He was also a Visiting Writer at the 2010 Martha's Vineyard Residency in Edgartown, Mass., and the 2011 Artist in Residence at Milkwood International, Czech Republic.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ratmammy VINE VOICE on November 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
PUNAHOU BLUES by Kirby Wright

November 27, 2005

Rating: *** ½

For those who enjoy the novels of Lois-Ann Yamanaka, PUNAHOU BLUES is recommended. Set on the island of Oahu, the story revolves around a Hawaiian born Jeffrey, older brother Ben, and their life on the island as "hapa" kids growing up in a mostly Asian community.

The novel traces Jeffrey's years from childhood to young adult, with each chapter a glimpse into his life. The reader will laugh out loud at some of his antics, as boys will be boys, especially on the islands. A scene involving grandmother's diamonds is a riot, and introduces the family to the reader.

Complete with Hawaiian/English glossary, PUNAHOU BLUES is a delightful look into the growing up years of a young boy. While this is purely fiction, it reads like a memoir, and for those who are not familiar with island living, this will be a great first glance at what it is like growing up white in an environment that caters mostly to Asians.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ann Mesrobian on June 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Destined to be a cult classic amongst Punahou alumni, this sweet-sour romp through childhood in paradise captures the bodaciously colorful characters and happenings that shaped life on and off-campus in the 1960-70's.

I eagerly devoured each delicious episode like a hot malasada at the carnival, and came back for more. Ono grinds, Kirby, and mahalo nui for the memories.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Henke on July 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
Punahou Blues is a great book and a joy to read. For me it is the

most important book i've read. The images are so much better than

what photos or video can do...

It reminded me of American Grafiti which asked the question

"Where were you in 62?"

Punahou Blues asks the question "Where were you in 72?"

And, oh, boy, if you are from Hawaii, you will remember!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Prince Kuhio on October 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
Was growing up almost-all haole in the early days of the State of Hawai'i really this hard? Was it really this good?

PUNAHOU BLUES is the best novel of Hawai`i I've read...ever. We're talking about novels here. Robert Louis Stevenson's short stories, letters and speeches by Mark Twain and memoirs by everyone from Hawaiian rulers to missionaries to early visitors don't count. That comparison would be not apples to oranges but more starfruit to kalo. What makes a novel good and even important is the writer's ability to make the lives of the characters matter to me (a reader), his ability to tell the stories of the characters compellingly and, finally, his capacity for making me reflect on my own life and experience.

By all three measures, Wright succeeds.

The "oh-no!" and "good boy!" reactions throughout this book are not only inescapable but, I suspect, quite different for different readers. Jeff's going to learn to box in order to put a bully in his place. Some readers will say, "attaboy." I say, "good grief, kid, get a grip." The thing is that almost every day in Jeff's life, as told here, is something at once ordinary and, at the same time, charged with massive significance. That is to say, we the readers are seduced by Wright. We think along with him that the day-to-day trials of a schoolboy have real importance...just as the boy himself would feel at the time.

Jeff learns to kiss and you'll have opinions about whether he learns with the right or wrong girl. He cuts class or falls in lust or says almost anything, and we either cheer him on or wish he'd thought it through better.

Until now, I have felt that there was just one story of Hawai`i that really had to eventually be made into a movie. Now, I know a second one that absolutely should catch Hollywood's attention. Or, maybe a movie isn't needed. Wright makes the picture whole and vivid in the reader's mind, and maybe that's enough.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Linda Relacion Oosahwe on August 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
PUNAHOU BLUES captures the haole experience of growing up with sweet sour turbulance and malasadas kisses on Oahu. With its racially profiled truths, it expresses a longing and makes you ono for Hawaii.\\000//
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Horror writer from TN on June 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
Very good book that describes coming of age in a racially charged environment. Kirby Wright has written an engaging, well-thought novel that will delight his readers!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ancient One on January 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
Punahou Blues is a Coming of Age tale set in Hawaii. Its a tale of Creative Imagination that is filled with Generosity of Spirit. Jeff Gill is a character one cant help but Love. Kirby Wright shows us that not only is he a Gifted Poet , he is also a Novelist whose Uniquely Personal stories are bound to Captivate the Literary World.

This book is a Refreshing Treat , its Unique Perspective and Penetrating Insight make one Appreciate every word and every moment. We are reminded of our own childhood and every experience the children have in this book are experiences we all Share - first kiss ... Kirby Wright has woven a tale of Inspired Imagery that Refreshes ones Heart and Nourishes ones Mind.

This is a work that is Meaningful. Simple in its Beauty , it Stimulates the Appetite for more. Punahou Blues is the Human Experience explored in a Thoughtfully Crafted piece of Literature that serves as a mirror to the Self. Thank you Kirby for Living your Lifes Purpose and for Sharing your Creative Gifts.

Punahou Blues a Shining Pearl of Graceful Simplicity.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bobby on February 21, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Having attended Punahou in the 70's and early 80's I could relate to a lot of the events in this book. The carnival, proms, outer island visits to see relatives, etc. Instead of boxing matches on Waialae Golf Course, we'd wait for the big rain storms when the golf course flooded and we'd have 20 on 20 tackle football games. Those were a blast. I'm sure the members love hearing that.

I highly recommend Kirby's short stories as well.

Thanks for the excellent read!
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