I’m starting to wonder if there’s anything Wayne Moniz can’t write. Seriously–the guy made his name in Hawaii writing plays, which can be difficult and confining. If you can’t write effective, meaningful, real dialogue (and many, many writers can’t), then the play fails, pure and simple.
Moniz has written 13 plays. He’s also written screenplays, poetry, musical lyrics and short stories. About the only thing I think he hasn’t yet done is a novel, but novels are easy–you just ramble along until you’re done. It requires none of the discipline or control of short stories, which are much harder by comparison (I know this, having previously written a novel).
Anyway, Moniz is at it again, this time with a new compilation of short stories called Beyond the Reef: Stories of Maui in the World. Published by Moniz’s own outfit Punawai Press in Wailuku, the book officially comes out on March 9.
“Like all his previous works, the Maui native has based these stories on the people, events, and issues of Hawai‘i, with the aim of preserving its rich past, in his own small way,” reads the info blurb on the back of the book. “As in his previous award winning anthology, each yarn is of a different genre: ghost story, comedy, crime, a Western, and, this time, includes several new types: a tragedy, an inspirational story, a coming of age tale, and a sports reminiscence.”
You catch that? Most story writers tend to stick with one genre–I like noir mysteries, but other people prefer sci-fi or vampires or historical. But Moniz likes to jump around and write about everything (well, except maybe vampires, though given an assignment, I’m sure he’d produce a completely compelling and interesting Dracula story).
Though to be honest, Moniz doesn’t just mix up genres within Beyond the Reef–he mixes it up within the stories themselves. Take “The Big L,” for instance, which happens to be my favorite story in the new book. It’s a crime story, sure, based loosely on Maui’s first bank robbery, which occurred back in 1938. It’s full of period gangster talk (as well as pidgin, of course) but it’s also damned funny.
Of course, Maui defies genres, and right now, I can’t think of a better writer on the island who not only understands that, but can accurately recreate it.