Synopses & Reviews
Love's king-size bread works the best, white, for Maisie, Blu, and me. The crust on the king-size loaf isn't dark brown and papery, but doughy and soft. We eat mayonnaise bread for a long time after Marna's funeralIt's been two months now and it's still our primary food. Poppy plays "Moon River" over and over on the piano he got from the dead deacon garage sale last Easter. He never cries for our dead Mama in front of the three of us.
Sometimes I put pepper from the rusted Schilling's can on the mayonnaise bread. Even down to the pepper dust at the bottom of the red can. Some days, we have paprika and red chili or yellow curry powder. I stick the fork handle into the Schilling's bottle, scraping chili or curry dust off the hard rock of seasoning.
We watch Gilligan's Island with our after-school snack, which is also mayonnaise bread; Poppy still plays "Moon River" in the background.
He sings aloud:
"Old dreammaker, you heartbreaker, wherever you're going, I'm going your way."
He makes me afraid.
And who the dreammaker is.
About a month later, I can't charge groceries at Friendly Market; the bill has run up too high. Poppy tells me, "Ivah, I gotta work the graveyard shift at Del Monte from now on. Straight from the school, I coming home for bathe and eat, then I going to the truck barn. You going be in charge of dinner."
The lastthings I bought on Poppy's charge were ajar of Best Foods, a pint of Malolo strawberry syrup, which I diluted 7 to I instead of 5 to 1, and three cans of Spam.
"You heard me? You going be in charge of dinner."
From now on.
Poppy shows me the fast way to make a hot dinner.
The other thing I make is cream-of-mushroom soup on the hot rice. Don't add any water. It tastes like gravy. I serve it right out of the rice pot with the soup ladle.
Poppy doesn't care. He comes home from the school full of chalk dust and the fine dirt from the dust mop thathe pushes across the gym floor at the end of the day. He smells like Pine-Sol all the time.
Poppy says I'm the best cook in the house.
Saturday morning, I saw my brother Blu gather eggs outside. He had two. I made them for him sunny-side up, and he licked the yolk off his plate.
Poppy brought home cases of dry saimin that somebody bought for him from the Swap Meet in Honolulu. So I got good at making fried noodles:
Boil the saimin and drain. Chop Spam, green onion, and fried egg and mix with the saimin. Sprinkle the soup stock over the fried noodles for flavoring.
It was getting pretty bad around the house. I saved a stick of Wrigley's spearmint gum that Evangeline Reyes gave me on Monday until Saturday. I felt funny every day asking Evangeline to give me a stick of gum from the PlenTPak stash that she had in her patent-leather white bag.
"There was food in the house. Mama was in the kitchen. It was breakfast time. We had eggs (from the carton), Farmer John bacon, Florida orange juice. I smelled it all in my room! But when I woke up, it was only a dream!"
He's got his teacher ingrained in his head, Miss Torres, who makes every student write the same last line of every writing assignment. I had her in the fourth grade too. Curse on him. Now she's part of his talking.
Today, Blu's class is going on an excursion and he has to bring a home lunch. I make the lunch for him. I look in the icebox and in the canned-goods cabinet for a long time.
"Get white bread," I tell Blu cheerfully, "and peanut butter and jelly. Get maynaise. Can makemaynaise bread with whatever seasoning you like." Blu thinks mayonnaise bread is poor food even if he likes it a lot, especially with curry powder sprinkles.
One time I put cabbage instead of lettuce in his corn beef sandwich for Boy Scouts. Cabbage instead of lettuce makes a sandwich look poor, Blu says.
So I make peanut butter and jelly for him. I wrap two...
On the Hawaiian island of Molokai, life goes on for the three young Ogata children after the death of their mother and subsequent emotional withdrawal of their grief and guilt-stricken "Poppy." The eldest at 13, Ivah is now responsible for the safety and well-being of tiny Maisie, vulnerable and mute since their mother's passing; and for Blu, her uncontainable brother whose desperate need for love has made him vulnerable to the most insidious of relationships.On the Hawaiian island of Molokai, life goes on for the three young Ogata children after the death of their mother and subsequent emotional withdrawal of their grief and guilt-stricken "Poppy." The eldest at 13, Ivah is now responsible for the safety and well-being of tiny Maisie, vulnerable and mute since their mother's passing; and for Blu, her uncontainable brother whose desperate need for love has made him vulnerable to the most insidious of relationships.
Set in a dusty pineapple town on the island of Molokai, Blu's Hanging follows the three Ogata children as they reel from their mother's death and the emotional withdrawal of their "Poppy".In a voice by turns comic and heart-wrenching, "big sista" Ivah tells of her inventive attempts to care for her siblings -- starting in the kitchen, where she tries to work wonders with mayonnaise and Spam. Maisie, the youngest, hasn't spoken in months and finds solace only in her dog, Ka-san. And their brother, Blu, is propelled into increasingly insidious relationships by his flamboyant imagination and uncontainable need for love. Savagely funny, moving, and wise, Blu's Hanging cracks open the underside of paradise with consummate force; it will linger in your mind and infuse your dreams.
Set on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, after the death of their mother and withdrawal of their grief-stricken father, "Blu's Hanging" tells "a poignant yet unsentimental tale" ("San Francisco Chronicle") about the three children left behind.
About the Author
Lois-Ann Yamanaka is the author of Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre, Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers, Blu's Hanging, and a young adult novel, Name Me Nobody. She is the winner of a 1998 Lannan Literary Award and the 1998 Asian American Literary Award, and lives in Honolulu with her husband and son.