Issue 91: Jeffrey Higa

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About Jeffrey Higa

Jeffrey J. Higa is the author of Calabash Stories, which won the Robert C. Jones Prize, and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. His short story, “The Shadow Artist,” was a finalist for the Italo Calvino Prize and received an honorable mention in the Kurt Vonnegut Speculative Fiction Prize from the North American Review. He has published widely in literary and commercial magazines, including Zyzzyva, Sonora Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Willow Springs, Bamboo Ridge, Salt Hill, LitQuarterly, Honolulu Review of Books, Honolulu Magazine, Business Today, Poets & Writers and others. He was a fiction fellow at the Sewanee Writers Conference and his full-length play, Futless, won the Hawai’i Prize from the Kumu Kahua Theatre. He lives in Honolulu with the biologist Marguerite Butler, the actor Raine Higa, and the good dog Tim Tam.

He can be reached at or on twitter @higatweet.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "The Boy, the Carpenter, and the Risen"

Let me tell you a little story about this story. Sometimes when I need some inspiration, I’ll re-read the shorter works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. One night, I was lying on the couch and reading the story, “Blacaman, Vendor of Miracles” and if you know this story… well let’s just say when you get to the end of the story, it’s not the end of the story. And I remember finishing the story and my very next thought was that I knew exactly what I was going to write.

At that moment, I had a decision to make. I could get off the couch and start writing it, or I could try and remember what I was thinking the next time I sat down to write. As a younger writer, I probably would have relied on my memory to recall what I had been thinking. But being an older writer, I knew the countless times that path had failed me. So I got off the couch and spent the next 3 or 4 hours at my desk crafting the voice and writing the first page.

Thinking about it afterwards, I was never more of a writer than when I got off that couch. Because we all know people who have told us, “I could be a writer if I just had the time,” or “I wanted to be a writer,” or “If I could be anything it would be a writer.” And I always answer, “Yes, you’d be a great writer’” or “Yes, you’d probably be a better writer than me,” because I know the difference between them and me. I get off the couch.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

For several years now, I have become obsessed with artifacts from my Gen X childhood. For example, I believe Generation X is the “Made from concentrate” juice generation. Nobody drank fresh squeezed anything. Fancy for us was when you went to your rich friend’s house for a sleepover and the next morning their parents served you defrosted frozen concentrated orange juice. Anyway in Hawaii, during the reign of Kool-Aid and Tang, there existed a competitor called Orange Exchange that came to us in slim steel 6-ounce cans. They were insanely cheap. I think they were 25 cents each but on sale, you could grab them for 6 for $1. Everyone I knew drank the bright orange stuff, and the rule for making it–1 can exchange and then 5 cans of water–was the only mathematical ratio we valued. Even the jingle from the commercial, “The Exchange goes round, round, round, and down, down, down…” was part of the indelible soundtrack of our lives. Then, one day, it suddenly seemed to disappear. Whether it was a fatal fickleness of fashion or the demise of the Exchange conglomerate, I’ll never know. But I do know there were no more leaning towers of Orange Exchange at the grocery store and more tragically, its existence and lore of its recipe passed out of kid knowledge. I would say I looked for over a decade before I found an empty rusty can of it from a seller with an eye-watering markup that would have netted me 30 cans back in the day. But at least now, I have this little memento of my childhood, hermetically sealed in a glass display vessel that my Gen Z child will throw in the recycle bin once I inevitably go the way of the Orange Exchange.

“The Boy, the Carpenter, and the Risen” by Jeffrey J. Higa

Found in Willow Springs 91 Back to Author Profile   THE VILLAGE. There was a time before the plantation cleared a road to the village when we were known as the … Read more

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