“The Man Who Walked Backward Down the Na Pali Coast,” is by former Kauai resident Stephen McMillin.
When we met Stephen we were struck by his passion for Kauai and his subtle, but distinct, sense of humor. His wonderful novel is told from the perspective of his character Peter, an out-of-work but well-known photographer on the Mainland. With nothing better to do than wait for the mail to arrive, Peter one day receives $15,000 in an anonymous envelope, accompanied with only a note that states a date, time and place to be.
Intrigued, and having no other prospects on the horizon, Peter flies to Kauai and meets John (the “Man” of the book title). A wildly eccentric self-proclaimed guru, John (or TMWWBDTNC as he prefers to call himself) is the one who has hired Peter to photograph him walking backwards down the Na Pali Coast.
Along with John’s cult of zany followers and scriptures of nonsense, they set off toward the Kalalau Valley as this unconventional journey unfolds. The novel’s pacing is like hearing a good campfire tale, making one eager to know what happens next.
In addition to learning some of Kauai’s legends and myths, his descriptions of flora, fauna and vistas give the sense of actually being there.
Many of the real-life personalities who reside in Kalalau Valley are depicted wonderfully through his characters.
The authors’ parallels between times past and today are also compelling. Men and women equally have enjoyed this book. I only stopped reading it long enough to get some sleep and finished the rest the next morning! This book has been compared to “Life of Pi,” “The Alchemist” and “Lord of The Flies.” Overall, it is a fun and entertaining book, well worth spending a couple nights reading.
Cynthia and Ed Justus are owners of The Bookstore in Hanapepe, 3785 Hanapepe Road. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 10 to 9:30 Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. Info: 335-6469 or www.talkstorybookstore.com.