I finished Paul Theroux’s Hotel Honolulu a week or so ago, and enjoyed it. It’s not so much a novel as it is a set of connected stories. The premise is that the narrator is a published writer who hasn’t published anything in a while, has gone through a divorce, and just needs to park himself someplace for a while. He falls into the job of managing the Hotel Honolulu, an aging second- or third-tier hotel in Honolulu. Although he seems to be resolutely done as a writer, the kaleidescope of hotel guests, employees and locals that he is able to observe from his perch in the hotel impels him inexorably back to the keyboard. Lotsa fun.
I was reminded, as I read, of a place in Miami Beach that my grandparents took me to for a couple of spring trips when I was in the third and fourth grades. I’m not sure why they inflicted me on themselves in this manner. I guess they were a) attempting to civilize and educate me and b) were perhaps lightening the load on my parents for a bit.
The place we stayed in both times was called, oddly, the Fabulous Hotel Waikiki. On Miami Beach. The first time we went, I had just had my tonsils out after going through several relatively sickly years; I was also getting my first burst of hormones, and starting to morph form a skinny little kid to a chubby 9-year-old. On this trip, I found I had a real jones for fried shrimp and scallops, and even though I would get sick sometimes from (another new experience) swimming in the Fabulous Waikiki’s salt-water pool, I evidently didn’t purge enough of the seafood delights to keep from packing on some weight.
As I said, the title of Theroux’s book reminded me of the Fabulous Waikiki, and I was curious about what happened to it, and whether it was still around. The only thing I found was this postcard for sale on eBay. It was mailed to someone in Des Plaines, IL in July, 1957, which would have been the same year I was there. I myself sent many a smug missive on this same postcard. It was a pleasant shock to see it again:
In the same vein, Mrs. Perils and I are sitting in the Atlanta airport, on our way to Charleston, SC and 5 days on the beach on Pawley’s Island, just south of Myrtle Beach. As in past years, we’re meeting up with my brothers, their wives and my mom and her sister. More travelogue anon.