Flying-Fox in a Freedom Tree: And Other Stories

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University of Hawaii Press, 1974 - Fiction - 149 pages
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This early collection of eight short stories and a novella is vintage Wendt. Stories convey the unease of a traditional island community caught up in the rapid changes of the modern world.

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A Descendant of the Mountain
The Cross of Soot
Captain Full the Strongest Man Alive who
Pintsize Devil on a Thoroughbred
A Resurrection
The Coming of the Whiteman
Declaration of Independence
FlyingFox in a Freedom Tree
Virginwise the Last Confession of Humble

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Page 1 - ... from the spell at the shrill sound of the song of a bird; then the pain was there again snaking its way from the core of his belly to fill his mouth, and brim over from his eyes. He looked out. A troupe of mourners — now a daily sight — trailed past on the road bearing a long bundle and heading surely for the graveyard. Soon they too would have to follow that road with the body of his wife. Mauga shuddered. First his eldest son — heir to his name — had died; then one of his daughters;...
Page 2 - ... steadily; then his hand shot up, closed round it, killed it. Some understanding flicked into his mind as he examined the dead spider on the palm of his hand. Yes, he was the destroyer. That was it. He had the power to destroy those things more helpless than he was, as God had the power to destroy him. Yes, God had willed the epidemic to punish him and his people. His eyes shut tightly as he listened to the faraway tolling of the church lali. .Another victim. God was angry, and His anger knew...
Page 3 - There was no longer anywhere to hide. He turned and stumbled deeper and deeper into the web of trees. He stopped suddenly. The clearing — a green carpet of creepers and fern — skimmed away from his feet, and broke abruptly to his right where a spring bubbled like coconut milk from the earth to form a round, deep pool. He dragged his body to the pool, pushed it forward, and watched his mouth suck greedily at the water. He sighed and belched as the water stunned his belly. It was good. . . . For...
Page 4 - Who do you think you are?' he called to her. She stared straight back at him. Immediately he felt a fool. He sprang up and moved to leave. She giggled. He paused. 'Don't go!' she called. Til leave if you want me to.' He turned to face her, sensing that there was some trace of understanding between them: she was willing to share the pool with him. She smiled at him. And he noticed that she had pulled down her lavalava, and her arms were again crossed over her breasts. He sighed in relief, but he was...
Page 1 - ... crosslegged like a statue, Mauga — high chief of the district — drank the wailing and chanting of the mourners as he stared at the body of his wife stretched out in the middle of the pebble floor covered with fine mats. Flies swirled round the face of the dead woman. Mauga broke from the spell at the shrill sound of the song of a bird; then the pain was there again snaking its way from the core of his belly to fill his mouth, and brim over from his eyes. He looked out. A troupe of mourners...

About the author (1974)

The best-known writer from the South Pacific, Albert Wendt was born into a Samoan family. He left Samoa in 1952 to attend a high school in New Zealand as a scholarship student. He later received an M.A. in history from Victoria University in Wellington. After teaching at universities in Fiji and Samoa, Wendt now holds a professorship of Pacific studies at Auckland University. Wendt is the product of two cultures---the Samoan of his childhood and the European of his education. This inevitable clash of values figures in Wendt's first novel, Sons for the Return Home (1973), which recounts a doomed love affair between a Samoan man and a woman of European descent. The narrative also reveals how the young man feels torn between two cultural poles. Wendt's next novel, Pouliuli (1976), takes Samoan life as its subject. Sometimes called a South Pacific version of King Lear, the story follows the trials of an aged chief who tests those around him. Wendt's novel receiving the most attention is Leaves of the Banyan Tree (1979), a saga of Samoan family life that moves through several decades until the post-independence period. Flying-Fox in a Freedom Tree and The Birth and Death of the Miracle Man, Wendt's two collections of short stories, take up aspects of Samoan life---its traditions, its clashes with European culture, and its disintegration. In these stories Wendt rewrites old myths to show how tradition can instruct the present. Wendt has also published poetry, Inside Us the Dead (1976) and Shaman of Visions (1984), which incorporates the tropical beauty of Samoa and its oral traditions. He also has compiled several anthologies, including collections of poetry from Fiji, Western Samoa, the New Hebrides, and the Solomons.

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