Monthly Archives: May 2014

A CHAT WITH… TANYA TAIMANGLO

Not only is she an extremely talented writer, but also an utterly lovely person. A mother and a wife, a true Wonder Woman – Tanya Taimanglo – agreed to answer a few questions regarding her book, ‘Attitude 13’, as well as her beloved Guam. Here’s what she had to say…

TANYA TAIMANGLO

Pasifika Tales: Why did you decide to write ‘Attitude 13’?

Tanya Taimanglo: There wasn’t a large body of Chamorro literature out there in 2010, and what was available was mainly textbook style or history. There was some fiction and I wanted to add a collection of stories that reflected the culture of Guam. I think we, Chamorros, need it.

PT: Where did you draw your inspiration from?

TT: I’ve always loved writing and much of my writing reflects how I was raised in a Chamorro-Korean household. Tie in an American influence, and I guess you have me. I observe life around me. I people watch and spin off scenarios in my mind and jot those down as well. Some of these observations will be inspiring enough to flesh out into a short story or full novel.

PT: Are any of the stories based on real-life events?

TT: There are 13 short stories in my collection and while none of them are directly autobiographical, many strands of my life are woven into these narratives. Characters may mirror people I know, but I hope that universal themes presented in these stories tie the reader to the text.

PT: Which story do you like the most?

TT: That’s a tough one. I love some stories more than others, but I have to say I’m quite fond of ‘Off Road’, the 13th story. I love cinema and would like to believe that one day a Chamorro will win an Oscar.

PT: Would you say that your book describes the real Guam?

TT: That’s a tricky question. On one hand, my stories serve as ambassadors to the culture for those outside of it, on the other hand, the people I hope the stories reflect may not feel as if describes the ‘real Guam’. I don’t stress about that too much. The stories are my interpretation of the Chamorro culture I love. It’s my form of art and I would hope the real Guam comes through.

PT: What do you love about the island?

TT: Guam will always be my home. I miss the warm weather, the sense of family and the slower pace of island living.

PT: And what do you hate?

TT: I don’t miss the ravages of typhoons quite frankly. I once managed without electricity for about 8 weeks, with spotty water service too. I recall getting ready for my ten year high school reunion using bottled water to bathe. Definitely don’t miss that.

PT: Chamorro culture is worth cultivating, isn’t it?

TT: Definitely! All culture is. I don’t speak my native tongue, which I can change over time and practice. But, I do impart on my children aspects of our culture I value as tenets for my life. We are a strong, proud people who have endured so much. I come from a line that dates back to 2,000 B.C. That is remarkable. True, there is no pure Chamorro, but the culture is wonderful and we must keep it alive.

PT: You’ve been living in mainland US for quite a few years. Can you see yourself coming back to Guam one day?

TT: I never say never. As a Navy spouse, Washington State is my home now, and formerly San Diego, California. When I got married on Guam, ten years ago, I made my husband promise we would come back some day. I will always love my island home. I don’t know where the next ten years will take us, but I know I will have a warm, sunny place to return to if I needed.

‘ATTITUDE 13: A DAUGHTER OF GUAM’S COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES’ BY TANYA TAIMANGLO

‘Attitude 13: A Daughter of Guam’s Collection of Short Stories’ is a book written by a Chamorro author, Tanya Chargualaf Taimanglo. It’s a compilation of 13 narratives, all of which describe the reality of life in Micronesia.

ATTITUDE 13

Summary

In beautiful Guam, just like everywhere else in the world, people are in search of love, acceptance, and happiness. Only a few are lucky enough to find it. Those who do not succeed try again, or give up, or simply leave the island hoping for a pot of gold in a ‘better’ world. Although at first glance it may seem that they have nothing in common with one another, a very strong bond exists between them. It’s their Chamorro culture. Some of the characters discover it anew, others want to leave it far behind. Some of them appreciate their heritage, others try to reconcile it with modernity. As they deal with everyday problems, they learn the true meaning of life, which – despite many obstacles – is a wonderful thing.

Review

This compilation is something you will want to come back to the minute you finish reading it. ‘Why?’ you may ask. Well, first of all, it is simply enjoyable. The highly engaging and compelling tales are both magical and realistic, charming and intriguing, poignant and amusing. This is the kind of book that draws you in from the very first page and keeps you wanting more until you reach the last sentence.

Second of all, it’s widely known that obvious truths tend to be easily forgotten, so it’s important to be reminded of them from time to time. And this is exactly what Tanya does. Her thought-provoking words help you realize what really matters in life – your inner happiness, your family, your loved ones, your friends, a place you can call ‘home’. The rest… Well, the rest you can live without, even if you still think otherwise.

In addition to being thought-provoking, the narratives are also extremely encouraging – they give hope and let you build your inner strength. As the stories present universal themes, everyone can relate to them. The truth is, you don’t have to be Chamorro to understand the hidden message of each tale.

Now, the volume may be full of unexpected pearls of wisdom, but it definitely cannot be treated as a motivational publication – it is nothing like that. The principal focus of this collection is…the island of Guam. While immersing yourself in the characters’ personal experiences, you’ll get a chance to learn quite a bit about Chamorro culture, which, I must say, is absolutely fascinating. But bear in mind that you won’t read much about ancient customs or practices. Instead, you will observe how people – emigrants as well as those still living in the country – try to adapt to this fast-changing world without compromising their traditional lifestyle. And, believe me, it’s the most valuable insight you can get.

As you may (or may not) expect, the book is also beautifully written. The author is a former English teacher and that can be noticed quite easily. Vivid imagery changes the words into thousands of pictures that appear in your mind, unlocking your imagination. Suddenly you are transferred to a different place, far away from home, where the youngs and olds share their incredible stories with you.

If you have ever searched for a book that would teach, inspire, and entertain, you’ve just found it. ‘Attitude 13’ is a thoroughly wonderful read – something you will not regret buying.

‘I AM DANIEL TAHI’ BY LANI WENDT YOUNG

‘I am Daniel Tahi’ is a companion novella to the Telesa series. It is a collection of first person narratives from Daniel, Leila’s boyfriend and a key character in the books. It should be read after or in conjunction with ‘Telesa: The Covenant Keeper’.

I AM DANIEL TAHI

Summary

Daniel Tahi has just returned to school after taking a year off due to his grandfather’s illness. Young, handsome, and very talented, he intends to focus solely on his education and sporting career. But everything changes when she appears in front of the SamCo. A new girl, looking angry and so furiously mad. She doesn’t seem impressed by Daniel. She doesn’t seem impressed by anything at all.

This strange behaviour grabs Daniel’s attention as he becomes more and more fascinated by his new co-student. Leila is unlike any other girl he knows. She is full of secrets. She is a mystery he’d like to uncover.

As time goes by, the two develop a strong friendship that gradually turns into love. Leila is not angry anymore. She is happy, and so is Daniel. With this beautiful girl by his side, he feels complete. But happiness doesn’t last forever and the young Samoan man fears that he may lose the one he loves. He is, however, desperate to fight and doesn’t want to give up until the very end.

Review

The concept of this book is absolutely fantastic! One can say that it is just a revised version of the first novel in the Telesa series, but honestly, it is so much more.

First and foremost, this novella tells the story of Daniel. You get to see him in a whole new light. His personality, his thoughts, and his emotions are finally fully revealed. You start to understand why he did the things he did, and what made him behave in a certain way. You learn a little bit more about his family and his past. His interactions with Leila are shown from his point of view, which, let me tell you, is quite interesting.

What can be easily noticed is that in this volume Daniel’s character is much more mature. Even though he sometimes acts like a typical young man, he demonstrates a very sensible approach to life. He is strong, both physically and mentally, and not afraid to take the risk. He is devoted to his girlfriend – he respects, admires, and loves her beyond words. Despite his raging hormones and various sexual temptations, he remains a true gentleman.

But there is also a different side to Daniel: funny, light-hearted, and playful. His great sense of humour really shines through. I would even say he is almost as amusing as Simone. And this is a huge compliment.

Now, this book is written in a completely different style compared to the novels in the actual Telesa series. With its jargon, slang, and abbreviations, it is much more casual and very informal. It is also quite ‘manly’, especially in the descriptions of hot and steamy make out sessions between the two lovers.

All in all, ‘I am Daniel Tahi’ is a great story. And I really mean great! It is such an enjoyable read; gripping and captivating. It contains some mature content so I am not sure if it’s appropriate for very young teenagers. But if you are, let’s say over the age of 16, go for it!