Paul Samuel Dolman has written three riveting books about his life and what happens to it as he continues his search for peace and contentment. “Seven Crazy Days in Maui” is the third.
He does not write his stories as fictional accounts but about real stuff that happens in his life, his reactions to that stuff, and his attempts to square them with his interior life goals, which seem pretty simple, really: how to love, how to be happy, and how to be a good guy.
His first book, “Hitchhiking With Larry David” (2011), is set on this Island and has become a national hit. The second, “Martha’s Vineyard Miracles” (2015), features a large dollop of Island life and its characters and is the story of refinding a former lover.
“Seven Crazy Days in Maui” is the next, albeit horrifying, chapter of that true love gone wrong. It is a compelling story because Mr. Dolman has a habit of honest self-examination and a willingness to write it down in a fashion that resonates. We’ve all been there, asked ourselves those same questions, perhaps learned that our own self-examination could have been more ruthlessly honest.
In that sense Mr. Dolman shows up as a teacher, a sort of life guide who is figuring it out as he goes, doing his best to uncover the right outcome to a personal dilemma. And, boy, does he have one.
When we meet our hero, he is in Hawaii, chilling on Maui for a few months before returning to L.A. to begin a book tour surrounding the hardcover release of “Hitchhiking with Larry David” from Random House/Penguin, a very big deal in the book business.
Mr. Dolman explores the physical and spiritual beauty of Maui, and as his wont, meets an array of Maui folks. So far so good. Several of these islanders serve as a much-needed Greek chorus as the story unfolds. Because it turns out that the lost and found love from “Martha’s Vineyard Miracles” has resurfaced for another go-round.
Their relationship has had several iterations over several years, beginning in Del Mar, Calif., where they met, to a live-in idyll in Nashville. Assorted craziness mixed with deep love has split Mr. Dolman and the once Miracle Girl, now dubbed the Broken Girl, each time.
She asks to come to Maui, he agrees, and the nightmare begins. The perpetually penniless and often homeless Miracle/Broken Girl shows up strung out on pills and with assorted life difficulties, but she still has the magic for him.
Mr. Dolman spends the next seven days sorting it out, with the help of his new friends and through internal conversations with his own fear and self-doubt, a condition that he calls The Hole. By conversations, I mean real dialogue: The Hole chides, he responds. Like that.
At this point, Mr. Dolman’s talent as a storyteller kicks in. As readers, we become invested in his life. We begin to join the Greek chorus: “Don’t do this, Pauly. Do that instead.” We recognize that he is in love with a personality-disordered addict, that he cannot save her because she will not be saved, that chaos is her life choice, that love and memories of love aren’t enough.
Why do we become so invested? I believe it is because he is telling our stories, with excruciating detail about lives that most of us have lived. It occurred to me in the reading of “Seven Days” that this man’s story is not gender-specific, and has been the stuff of literature and drama forever.
His specified pro and con arguments have been made by men and women since the Garden of Eden — they arise from our need to love and to be happy.
Mr. Dolman’s voice in this story cuts through the lives we live that are too busy, too charged by other people, for us to be able to analyze or articulate the truths about our relationships. In telling the truth about himself, Mr. Dolman has done us all a good turn here.