Photo of Hilo Farmer’s Market by FeliciaElena used under a Creative Commons license.
Donigan Merritt, The Common Bond (Other Press, 2008).
As this novel starts, Morgan Cary, a haole raised in Hawai’i and for years a Kona fisherman, has returned to Hilo on the big island from California following the death of his wife, Victoria, in which he was complicit. Cary hits new lows, drinking whiskey to cope, or avoid coping, and then he meets Ben Kamikani, a fisherman who can use another hand, and who offers Cary a chance to start back. Things sagged (for me, at least) when Merritt rewinds the clock to tell the story of Victoria’s childhood in Iowa and the couple’s marriage in California, but then he brings the reader back to Hilo. The novel is at its strongest in Hawai’i, depicting the lives of Kona and Hilo fishermen whom most tourists will never know.
Merritt has a blog, and in the comments below he points out that he has posted pictures relevant to the Hawai’i portions of the novel. You can read Chapter 2 at Bit O’Lit. Cherie Parker was disappointed by the ending, though she toned down the objection here. Marilyn Dalrymple says readers will become hypnotically involved with the characters. Dee interviewed Merritt for Bookbuffet.com. Merritt panned the D.C. arts scene in the Washington City Paper.