Sharing a few paragraphs from Garrett Hongo’s Volcano. Example of a smart and insightful writer working to capture the depth of his story.
Sections from Hongo’s book.
“IN the kitchen, my aunt made some tea, put pink and green rice cakes on a plate and poured some shining bronze crackers in a bowl, motioned me out to the living room, and we took seats there opposite each other. With no other preface than that, she began a long monologue that was a generation’s worth of family story. . . I was to quiet myself. My silence let her find a rhythm to her own telling, find the right tone of voice, the delicate colors of emotion and recollection. She was giving me a dimension to things which had been both veiled and excised from consciousness and curiosity almost since my own birth. She told me who I was.
. . There are dimensions to this story that I cannot imagine. There are reasons for flight, for theft, for abandonment that will transform their tellings into quests for freedom and sagas of pure survival.”
…The villagers here in Volcano know that you must water hapu’u from the top of its trunk, not at its base. Its roots are adventitious, bundled into a communal shape like a stovepipe in air rather than groping through the ash and loam and crumbling lava like an underground bole. The hapu’u grows, then, like a gigantic mushroom in the rain forest, its attachment to earth a fine and fragile thing, the step of an angel.”