Volcanic Jesus: Hawaiian Tales is a collection of short stories that both Hawaiians and world wide visitors will treasure. It offers a vision of the Hawaii that most people might not notice, a Hawaii that is rich in spiritual significance and lush with touches of paradise.
These stories are set on Maui, Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island, Hawaii. They tell the tales of natives, haole, and tourists alike.
A Rochester reviewer said, "Clear, clean writing reminiscent of Hemingway's best. A must read for those who admire short stories with bite and sensitivity."
This book is close to my heart. I started it on my first visit to Hawaii when I saw a woman with a black eye. Her story became the first in the collection, "Pi'ilani, the Girl with the Heavenly Eyes."
Subsequent visits brought me in contact with marvelous people whose stories I knew I needed to tell. I used a technique that Nadine Gordimer describes as "inhabiting the character" while I wrote.
Other stories started from such germs--to quote Henry James. For instance, Keezu Breen, the bell hop in "Why Not Live in the Hokole" came to me when I was staying in Maui and saw a young man in a native costume running around lighting the tiki lanterns in preparation for an evening party.
"A View of the Water" came to me when I reflected one day in one of the new hotels in Kaui on the fate of the people whose homes were sacrificed for the sake of commercial progress. Camille and Lawrence Tanaka were those people, and their fate was a mixed blessing.
The title story derived from my walk along the slopes of Kilauea on the Big Island and up to Volcano Inn where I saw the steaming caldera and smelled the sulphurous residue. That was an experience I shall never forget because it awakened in me images from the first book of John Milton's Paradise Lost when he described Satan in Hell.
Volcanic Jesus is not, however, a hellish story.