The Last Paradiseby James D. Houston
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… See more details below
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 theme 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.
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Don't we all do this? Live our days one at a time, plunging along, driven by who knows what? Years later, looking back, some pattern may appear. The mind will seek it out, the pattern gives order to the day, the season, the blizzard of events. Was a pattern really there? Who knows? But the mind needs one.
PUBCOMMENT: The Last Paraside is winner of the 1999 American Book Award.
"This is a lush, lyrical novel, effectively combining a mystery story, a love story, and a glowing tapestry of Hawaiian life and culture."--Booklist
"The Last Paradise delivers characters with thoroughly imagined lives, engaged in complex interdependencies. A good and exciting read, about important matters."--The Washington Post
"Houston's masterly handling of the relationship between people's lives and the forces of nature and his red hot description of Angel and Travis's blazing love affair have created a first-class read for popular fiction collections."--Library Journal
"James Houston is a most valuable natural resource. Our world needs his way of seeing and knowing."--Maxine Hong Kingston, author of China Men and Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book
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