Remembering MacMillan

Shortly before Christmas, we received word that local author Ian MacMillan had passed away on Dec. 18.

A University of Hawaii English professor, MacMillan had taught creative writing there since 1966. He had just published a collection of short stories, Our People: Stories, through BkMk Press at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

His most recent novel, The Braid, was published locally by Mutual Publishing. You can find it here.

Mutual had also published another of MacMillan’s novels set in Hawaii, The Red Wind, a touching story about the generations of people involved with a single outrigger canoe, which is still in print as well. Says Mutual Publishing publisher Bennett Hymer, “Ian was very generous of his time to everyone, particularly to aspiring writers. He was in all senses a gentleman and a gentle man. There was no ego, which is what made him so special.”

In our April 2008 issue, we published a short story by MacMillan, “Playing Before Royalty.” You can find it here. I admire the way this story captured the details of everyday existence for those who are just hanging on to a normal life in contemporary Honolulu.

Back in the early ’90s, I was an English major at UH. I never took MacMillan classes, but I do remember this: everyone who had taken his classes told me I should. This essay, in the January 2007 issue of UH English department’s journal Tradewinds, gives a far better sense of MacMillan’s work with writing, and those who would be writers, than anything I could say.

Among his many honors: MacMillan won the 2000 PEN-USA-West Fiction Award for his novel, Village of a Million Spirits: A Novel of the Treblinka Uprising (Steerforth Press, 1999, Penguin Books, 2000), and, in 1992, received the Hawaii Award for Literature for his writing and teaching.

UH has turned the current issue of its literary journal, Hawaii Review, into a tribute to MacMillan. Says Board of Publications business manager, Addy Mattos, “It sells for $10 per copy and is available from the BOP Business Office until supplies last. Orders and inquiries are processed by phone at 956-7043, fax at 956-9962, or by emailing”

Ian, we will miss your voice.