Quotes


Hawai‘i is hot and cold volcanoes, clear skies, and open ocean. Like most Pacific islands it is all edge, no center, very shallow, very narrow, a set of green bowls turned upside down in the sea, the lips of the coastline surrounding the bulges of porous mountains. This crockery is draped in a thickness of green so folded it is hidden and softened. Above the blazing beaches are the gorgeous green pleats of the mountains.

--Paul Theroux, Hotel Honolulu, New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2001

Hawai‘i seems a robust archipelago, a paradise pinned like a bouquet to the middle of the Pacific, fragrant, sniffable and easy of access. But in 50 years of traveling the world, I have found the inner life of these islands to be difficult to penetrate, partly because this is not one place but many, but most of all because of the fragile and floral way in which it is structured.

-- Paul Theroux, “Paul Theroux’s Quest to Define Hawaii”, Smithsonian Magazine, May 2012,www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/paul-therouxs-quest-to-define-hawaii-61158475/

The smash of sunlight on the sea brightens Honolulu, which has the best weather and cleanest air of any city in the world.

--Paul Theroux, “Honolulu Revealed”, Honolulu magazine, Aug 2001. Reprinted as Paul Theroux, “The City: Honolulu”, Newsweek, June 26, 2011, later retitled “Paul Theroux Reflects on Honolulu”,www.newsweek.com/paul-theroux-reflects-honolulu-hawaii-68021.

Honolulu has a very low crime rate—contrary to the impression given by the television cop show Hawaii Five-O. It’s one of those rare places that doesn’t have a downside. It’s all fun—although the hostess bars might not be to everyone’s taste.

--York Membery, “Paul Theroux’s Honolulu”, The Telegraph (UK), June 20, 2011, www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/celebritytravel/8586131/Paul-Therouxs-Honolulu.html

I like Honolulu because it seems more a small town with pretensions than a real city.[…] Ask tourists why they like the city, and they will name a hotel or a Waikiki restaurant. These people have no idea that Honolulu is a secret city, a place of beloved noodle shops, sushi bars, grocery stores; a park where a softball game is usually in progress, or a church hall is hosting an orchid-growers’ club.

--Paul Theroux, “Honolulu Revealed”, Honolulu magazine, Aug 2001. Reprinted as Paul Theroux, “The City: Honolulu”, Newsweek, June 26, 2011, later retitled “Paul Theroux Reflects on Honolulu”,www.newsweek.com/paul-theroux-reflects-honolulu-hawaii-68021

Honolulu has an extraordinarily high number of cars per mile of road—and consequently a horrendous traffic problem. Yet honking your horn is seen here as a barbarity. (Driving with your feet out the window is stylish.)

--Paul Theroux, “Happily a State, Forever an Island”, New York Times, August 21, 2009, p. A27, www.nytimes.com/2009/08/21/opinion/21theroux.html

Although many of its birds and flora have been wiped out by humans or alien species, Hawai‘i’s other Edenic attributes are just about indestructible. I keep telling myself that no one can taint the orchidaceous air, or flatten the gigantic sea cliffs, or still the great waves, or obliterate the rainbows.

--Paul Theroux, “Happily a State, Forever an Island”, New York Times, August 21, 2009, p. A27,www.nytimes.com/2009/08/21/opinion/21theroux.html