The Lost Art of Room Travel

9780987596505_p0_v1_s260x420by Jennifer Barrett
Koala Cove Press, 2013

In 1790, a Frenchman by the name of Xavier De Maistre claimed to have pioneered the art of room travel; he explored his bedroom for the 42-day duration of a house arrest sentence he received for dueling. Over two centuries later, an Australian by the name of of Jennifer Barrett tried De Maistre’s unusual mode of travel for herself, embarking on a journey around her study. Her personal observations of the various objects she encountered soon developed into deeper meditations on the wider issues and ideas that arose from them. The result is The Lost Art of Room Travel—a collection of nine narrative essays that navigate ideas including imagination, travel, and nostalgia, in a voice that is, by turns, serious, comic, and even surreal.

An excerpt:

One  day while searching the T.V. channels for something interesting, I found that a Magnum P.I. re-run was on, the first time I had seen an episode since they were originally aired in the 1980s. As I settled down to watch I thought it would probably be a bit cringe-worthy, as many television series from that era are when re-visited. Although I had been a huge fan of the Magnum episodes, I wasn’t sure whether they would hold the same appeal decades later. However, somewhat to my surprise, I really enjoyed it. The episodes, which aired a few days a week, became something to look forward to. For the brief time it took Magnum and his friends to “save the day” I was transported away from the constricted confines of my house and deposited into the tropical beauty of Hawaii. The fact that the leading man, played by Tom Selleck, was very easy on the eyes may have added to the show’s attraction, but I admit nothing…

[One] reason the Magnum episodes appealed to me was that I had originally seen them when in my early twenties, so at a subconscious level I was connecting with my youth again while watching them. That’s presumably why nostalgia is such big business, with re-runs of the shows from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and clothing from previous decades coming back into vogue. People who were young when the originals made their debuts are reminded of their youth.

 

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Brothers Under a Same Sky

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by Gary Pak
University of Hawaii Press, 2013

Gary Pak’s latest novel is the story of two Korean-American brothers, Nam Kun and Nam Ki Han, raised in a devout Christian household on a Hawaiian plantation. Following their father’s death, Nam Kun works to support his mother and younger brother, but distances himself from the same Christian faith his remaining family clings to. Years later, at the start of the Korean War, Nam Ki is drafted into the army—an occurrence Nam Kun believes will make a man out of his younger brother. However, the need to kill clashes with Nam Ki’s religious convictions, and the ethical turmoil that follows is soothed only when he meets and falls in love with a young Korean, Christian woman. Nam Ki vows to return for her once the war ends, but upon doing so learns that she has fallen into an ignominious lifestyle, confronting him with a final choice between faith and flesh.

Gary Pak is a third-generation Korean-American. He received his BA from Boston University and his MA and PhD from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, where he is currently a professor of English. His published fiction includes the novels A Ricepaper Airplane and Children of a Fireland, as well as the short story collections The Watcher of Waipuna and Other Stories, and Language of the Geckos. He is the recipient of the 1992 Elliot Cades Literary Prize, as well as a 2002 Fulbright award to Seoul, South Korea.