Volcano: A Memoir of Hawaii
By Garrett Hongo; Random House, 1995
From back cover: “Volcano is the Hawaiian village, situated between Kilauea and Mauna Loa, where Garrett Hongo was born. It is the “chunk of the sublime” he lost at the age of six, when his parents moved to Los Angeles and painstakingly erased their son’s island English and all their island memories. And Volcano is where Hongo returned as a young man to reclaim its dreamlike landscape of fern forests and lava tubes and to recover the past -- personal and collective, Hawaiian and Japanese -- that had vanished in its mists.
Part poet’s memoir, part turbulent family chronicle, part luminous work of natural history, Volcano is the account of Hongo’s homecoming. It takes in the stories of Hongo’s playboy grandfather and his dutiful father, who rescued the family’s failing store only to have to leave it behind. It instructs us in the art of walking on lava and the lore of the hopu’u tree, whose core is so succulent that it has incited small wars. Brilliant as a spray of orchids, complex as the flavor of mango, Volcano is a magical evocation of heritage and place.”
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