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On the Makaloa Mat Paperback – Jun 1 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Pub Co (June 1 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419138766
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419138768
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 19 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g

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First Sentence
Unlike the women of most warm races, those of Hawaii age well and nobly. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
London's Hawaiian swan song May 1 2012
By Karl Janssen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
On the Makaloa Mat is a collection of seven short stories by Jack London, all of which are set in Hawaii. The book was published posthumously in 1919, and contains some of the last stories he wrote before his death. They are all tales of love, family, or friendship, told against the background of Hawaiian history, customs, and lore. Often they focus on the interaction between two dichotomous characters--one representing the old, authentic ways of Hawaiian life; the other representing the new, modern Hawaii under the "civilizing" influence of white colonization. London compares and contrasts these two sides of island life without playing favorites.

The best story in the book is "Shin-Bones," in which a modern, Oxford-educated Hawaiian prince recalls a life-changing adventure from his youth. To satisfy his superstitious mother's obsession with bone collecting, he accompanied an aged servant on a perilous quest to recover the hidden remains of his ancestors. In a story of similar subject matter, "The Bones of Kahekili," a wealthy, white rancher persuades his elderly servant to reveal the whereabouts of the remains of an old Hawaiian chieftain and the mysterious events surrounding his burial. "The Tears of Ah Kim" tells the story of a Chinese grocer in Honolulu who incurs the wrath of his aged mother when he reveals his intention to marry a young widow. Mother feels the bride-to-be is too modern, too liberal, and too westernized for her son. In "The Water Baby," an educated young Hawaiian man is treated to a folk tale while he accompanies a poor, elderly fisherman on a squid hunt. "The Kanaka Surf," about a love triangle in Waikiki, is easily the worst story in the book. Modern romance was never London's strong suit.

The stories in this collection exemplify London's mature writing style, for better or for worse. Over the course of his career, London's skill as a writer developed immensely. He was a much more proficient wordsmith at the end of his career than he was when he started. As he gained confidence and facility in his writing, his plots became more complex, his characters more fully realized, and his insight into human psychology more subtle and nuanced. Yet, much of his later work lacks the forceful directness and simple, crowd-pleasing fun of his earlier work. In his later years, he developed an annoying tendency to riddle his stories with unnecessary tangential digressions. By throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, he comes across as overly concerned with showing off his erudition and wit at the expense of a satisfying plot. In the stories included here, for example, each character is introduced with a detailed genealogical pedigree. Places casually mentioned in conversation are almost invariably accompanied by a superfluous side story of "Remember what happened there?" At times the dialogue resembles two people reading the index of a Hawaiian atlas. All the local color and atmosphere that London heaps into these tales adds authenticity to the setting but hinders the narrative momentum. The stories in this collection are all rather long, and most seem overloaded with gratuitous filler.

On the Makaloa Mat is a good collection of stories, but not one of London's best. As far as his Hawaiian stories go, his earlier collection The House of Pride and Other Stories is better overall. Nevertheless, a few of the gems included here make this book necessary reading for true fans of London.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Beauty and drama June 28 2001
By Guillermo Maynez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Library Binding
Jack London travelled extensively through the Southern Seas, living exciting but often frightening adventures that he later reflected on his short stories. London, a troubled adventurer who committed suicide, had a special sensibility to perceive, mix and express the juxtaposure of beauty and horror which reigned in non- or semi-civilized islands of the South Pacific. Frequently, his tales talk about the brutal confrontation between the white people and the aborigines, sometimes taking one side, sometimes the other, but most often simply depicting the sad consequences of the relationship. One exception to this is the tale that gives its name to this collection: "On the Makaloa Mat" is an extremely beautiful story about two Hawaiian sisters of mixed descent (3/4 white, 1/4 indigenous), from a very wealthy and noble family. Bella, the elder sister, tells the story of her one and only love, of course an unfortunate one. The story abounds in depictions of the lush landscapes of the Hawaiian islands, and of the strange social life of mid-XIX century. It is tragic but sweet, and I'd be surprised if someone hated it. Other tales are not sweet at all, like "The Chinago", about the absurd execution of a Chinese laborer; "The Terrible Solomon Islands", about a cruel joke played on a naïve Englishman by brutal colonists; "Koolua the leper", a short but epic story about man's indomitable lust for freedom, even in the most adverse and tragic circumstances; and "The inevitable white man", a bloody, horrific and dark tale of adventures.
The stories abound with murders, blood and cruelness, but they're never cheap or vulgar. In fact, I give them five stars because I consider them to be masterpieces of storytelling. London has no mercy, but beneath the surface his characters are full of life, that plenty, wild life embedded in the white men who conquered the world, and the aborigines which suffered the conquest. Extremely recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I love this book Feb. 20 2013
By Desiree Valenzuela - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
like many of us, I grew up on Jack London's animal stories- "White Fang", "The Call of the Wild" etc. I didn't know until all these years later that he had such a huge, juicy, wonderful body of work. That he was in fact a Master of the short story. This book was so terrific, it's hard to believe it was *free*. Highly recommended.
Worthwhile! Dec 13 2014
By Laura V. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's hard to add to these well-stated reviews. I loved it, It was so full of life. It was hard to walk away from the stories, and they stayed with me afterward.

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