“Bullets Over Hollywood” is a surprising change of pace, and as the stories migrate from place to place, from culture to culture and history to history, this story migrates into a modern story in feel and form. Davenport’s stories until now have been primarily tales of the abuse, decline, and imminent destruction, the decay and celebration of Pacific cultures brought on by a meeting with the relentless march of western expansion disguised, often, as progress. “Bullets” is instead a thoroughly modern tale, which ironically and perhaps metaphorically is the same; the tale of westerners--haole (how-li)--(when Hawaiians first encountered westerners they were so white, they thought they were ghosts, beings without breath Ha; breath. ole; without). – confronting the decay and decline of their lives through the relentless pursuit of fame and wealth and the confronting or clash of the human body when it meets disease and a reevaluation of that which is really valuable. Love. It is also a moral tale of the folly of the way we live our lives, and that like most follies, should be laughed at, not taken too seriously even if we look around nervously, after the laugh to see if anyone noticed.
The villain of the piece is not bigotry or vengeance, but cancer and the wanton embrace of what’s good to us not what’s good for us.
This brings us to the closing story in this important trilogy of literary fiction; stories that have explored, and often "mugged like a thug" in a dark alley, love, hate, acceptance, of the struggles for survival, identity, and dignity as old meets new and pride meets pride as prejudice. Its only fitting that all of those themes complete the cycle, not in one of the many paradises of the Pacific islands and the exotic-to-westerners lands of the Pacific rim, but in the backwoods of Georgia, in a fallen down slave quarters reclaimed from the forest. A metaphor for reclaiming human dignity? You be the judge.
“The Speed Of Light” is narrated by Bert, a white trash good old boy with such a deep seated pride in a heritage that is archaic, bigoted and ironically rooted in the economy of sucking the blood from the labor of others. Sound familiar? In the end, this tale of modern bigotry, told in surprisingly comic tones at time and in authentic “southern-ese” explores the exploitation of the strong by the weak in a place where the new ultimate sin isn’t being black but homosexual. And in the end, that hate barrier may just fall as well in the tides of enlightenment when the final lesson that is taught is "...that time is relative. Light is the thing. At the speed of light, time stands still. It’s the wild card. It makes things happen."