Marshall Islands have many stories to tell, and many storytellers to tell these stories, but these stories are told, not read. The book has 50 of these oral stories told by 18 storytellers from eight different islands and atolls. These stories are filled with tradition, values, and customs from the different islands. Marshall Islands Legends and Stories collected by Daniel A. Klein II was one of the two story collections, and only books to be found set in the Marshall Islands.
Stories are pretty much divided into two categories: stories believed to be true and stories not believed to be true. Many stories end with “That’s the end of the story”. Apparently, many storytellers who tell a story that reflects badly on the islands or the people, feel embarrassed. Many of the myths and legends in the book are there to fill the gap, to explain the unexplainable.
The stories are quite short. Many of the stories have, naturally, the element of water present. Fishing is another natural subject. Relationships, children, husbands and wives have their own stories, with a Marshallese twist. However, the most interesting stories were the different legends that I from now on will associate with Marshall Islands.
There are many interesting and different subjects found in the 50 stories. There are many stories about demons. Some of the stories are about half-human half-animals. However, one subject made me laugh. There are a few stories about farts. “Jena, a Big Fart” and “Demon Fart”. Maybe this is an island thing? The book from Fiji was pretty much all about farts. Well, these stories are definitely a fresh breeze (pun intended) from genocide, war, lost love, and hard lives.
“The demon woman called Likirebjel ate both the fire and lade. She had herself a good cooked meal. When she finished, she felt so good she farted. ‘Eat him, I eat Lade’. Phht! She farted Lade right out. The demon woman called Likirebjel looked back in surprise. ‘Where did you come from, Lade?’ ‘You farted and I came out’, answered Lade.”
I believe this collection of stories to be a good overview of the islands and atolls. I could almost smell the sea and hear the birds sing when I read the stories. I would thoroughly enjoy a night there by a campfire listening to these stories. I would definitely urge anyone who is interested in Marshall Islands, or planning to visit the islands, to read these stories.