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From the acclaimed author of Snow Mountain Passage comes this richly evocative novel that follows a half-Indian, half-Hawai'ian woman and her complex relationship with the last king of Hawai'i. When talk show host Sheridan Brody finds the journals of his great grandmother Nani Keala (aka Nancy Callahan), he uncovers a mythic, unknown tale. Nani, a shy girl from a remote Indian village, met the Hawai'ian king, David Kalakaua, on his grand progress by train across the United States in 1881, eventually returning with him to Honolulu. There, as his young ally and protégée, ever more assured and charming, she played an integral role in his attempt to revive the monarchy and spirit of his people and, eventually, witnessed the mysterious circumstances surrounding his downfall. Deeply engaging through its vivid portrayal of California and Hawai'i at the end of the nineteenth century, Bird of Another Heaven is a masterful portrait of an era long past.
James D Houston travels down the coast of California and records his experiences for others.
The San Andreas Fault is both a real and a metaphorical player in this novel of northern California in the early 70s. Set on a ranch near Monterey Bay, it explores relationships in a family jarred by the return of a son from Vietnam, almost whole but shaken and confused. His return coincides with a series of bizarre killings that panic the community--a reminder that in the legendary land of promise abundant possibilities and agents of destruction live side by side.
During World War II a community called Manzanar was hastily created in the high mountain desert country of California, east of the Sierras. Its purpose was to house thousands of Japanese American internees. One of the first families to arrive was the Wakatsukis, who were ordered to leave their fishing business in Long Beach and take with them only the belongings they could carry. For Jeanne Wakatsuki, a seven-year-old child, Manzanar became a way of life in which she struggled and adapted, observed and grew. For her father it was essentially the end of his life. At age thirty-seven, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston recalls life at Manzanar through the eyes of the child she was. She tells of her fear, confusion, and bewilderment as well as the dignity and great resourcefulness of people in oppressive and demeaning circumstances. Written with her husband, Jeanne delivers a powerful first-person account that reveals her search for the meaning of Manzanar. Farewell to Manzanar has become a staple of curriculum in schools and on campuses across the country. Last year the San Francisco Chronicle named it one of the twentieth century's 100 best nonfiction books from west of the Rockies.
Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internmentby Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston James D. Houston
A moving and intensely human true story of a Japanese American family during the internment of World War II and its aftermath
In "The Last Paradise", James D. Houston transforms a classic genre, the detective story, into a masterful narrative of a quest for spiritual and cultural value. The time is 1986. Travis Doyle, a restless Vietnam veteran now working as an insurance claims adjuster in the Bay Area, is dispatched to Hawai'i to investigate fire damage at a geothermal drilling site located in volcanic lava fields. The last thing he expects is to confront the mystery of an ancient spirituality and an indigenous world view that tests and challenges his own. On the Big Island he encounters a former lover, Evangeline Sakai, a mixed-blood woman who, after many years away, has returned hoping to reconnect with her ancestral past. She becomes Travis's guide through a realm of nature signs and uncanny coincidences. With her he comes to know a world in which two opposing views are in conflict: Earth as commodity (whose resources exist to be consumed) and Earth as ancestor (to be honored and revered). "The Last Paradise" begins in San Francisco and pushes farther west, past the continent's edge, out into the Pacific. While its environmental drama is as contemporary as today's headlines, the novel resonates with the ancient themes of quest and transformation. A compelling cross-cultural love story, it is also a lyrical meditation on the volcano. Said to be the home of Pele, the fire goddess, Hawai'i's volcano region is at once destructive and creative, deadly and healing. Its capacity to transform human lives is at the heart of this powerful tale of crisis and renewal.
A chronological review of writings from people living in California
Snow Mountain Passage is a powerful retelling of the most dramatic of our pioneer stories--the ordeal of the Donner Party, with its cast of young and old risking all, its imprisoning snows, its rumors of cannibalism. James Houston takes us inside this central American myth in a compelling new way that only a novelist can achieve. The people whose dreams, courage, terror, ingenuity, and fate we share are James Frazier Reed, one of the leaders of the Donner Party, and his wife and four children--in particular his eight-year-old daughter, Patty. From the moment we meet Reed--proud, headstrong, yet a devoted husband and father--traveling with his family in the "Palace Car," a huge, specially built covered wagon transporting the Reeds in grand style, the stage is set for trouble. And as they journey across the country, thrilling to new sights and new friends, coping with outbursts of conflict and constant danger, trouble comes. It comes in the fateful choice of a wrong route, which causes the group to arrive at the foot of the Sierra Nevada too late to cross into the promised land before the snows block the way. It comes in the sudden fight between Reed and a drover--a fight that exiles Reed from the others, sending him solo over the mountains ahead of the storms. We follow Reed during the next five months as he travels around northern California, trying desperately to find means and men to rescue his family. And through the amazingly imagined "Trail Notes" of Patty Reed, who recollects late in life her experiences as a child, we also follow the main group, progressively stranded and starving on the Nevada side of the Sierras. Snow Mountain Passage is an extraordinary tale of pride and redemption. What happens--who dies, who survives, and why--is brilliantly, grippingly told.
Adventure and romance when whalers are rescued by Eskimos
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