Winter in Volcano

Gary Kissick, Author Random House (UK) $17.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-09-180138-0
Set in Honolulu, this carefully etched debut novel by poet Kissick (Outer Islands) evokes a world fragrant with ginger, jasmine and plumeria, lush with poinciana and banana plants. Luxuriating in his island paradise, Cullen Kinnell, 32-year-old English teacher at Holy Mount College, begins a secret affair with former student Felicia Mattos. The Brooklyn-born Cullen is seduced by Felicia's ravishing beauty, her dark Portuguese features and playful personality, but their ill-advised relationship is shadowed by Cullen's intense jealousy and Felicia's belief in superstitions and ghosts. A mysterious aura hovers over the couple, and they are even haunted by the villain of a local legend, a man who murdered his wife and her lover in a hotel room. Needing an escape from Cullen's bosses, Sister Lucia and Father Plecko, Felicia's protective parents, student jocks who blackmail Kinnell for flunking them, and the dead uncle who appears to Felicia in inexplicable nightmares, the two plan a trip to the Big Island to see a volcanic eruption. Functioning as an extended metaphor, the disastrous vacation mirrors the collapse of their affair. When Cullen learns Felicia's real reason for visiting the Big Island, he is forced to reevaluate his idyllic Hawaii romance. Kissick often strains too hard for poetic effect and the narrative is crowded with similes. When he concentrates on everyday detail, however, he brings to life a seldom-glimpsed middle-class, heterogeneous Hawaii. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-09-928117-7
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4481-3540-0
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