DARK WIND by John Jiler


A True Account of Hurricane Gloria's Assault on Fire Island
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 Jiler (Wild Berry Moon, 1982) brings a novelist's approach to this ``true account'' of the impact of Hurricane Gloria on Fire Island in 1985--blending history, meteorology, and vivid character portraits to convey a sense not just of a natural disaster but of a unique setting (socially as well as geographically) in which the larger events took place. The narrative begins with the origins of hurricanes in the simple physical processes of hot air rising and cold air rushing in to replace it. But Jiler soon shifts the focus to Fire Island, that fashionable sandbar so close to the teeming streets of Manhattan yet so totally unlike them as to seem at times on another planet. To capture the spirit of the place, the author follows a small group of Fire Islanders who have in common little more than a decision to ride out the hurricane despite all warnings. Among them are Dana Wallace, photographer and horse trainer; Ferron Bell, artist and pioneer of the gay community; Wayne Duclos, AIDS victim; Martin Quartararo, who wanted to keep the party going on forever; and Bob and Alys Tyson, perhaps the last straight couple in the community of Fire Island Pines. Interspersed with their experiences are glimpses of the animal and bird life of the fragile barrier island, both before and during the storm. The different life stories of these various characters, drawn from in-depth interviews, are in many ways more interesting than the eventual arrival of the hurricane itself, which comes almost as an anticlimax. Ultimately less than the sum of its parts--but, still, a well-written and evocative account of a remarkable community of strong individuals faced with powerful external forces. (Twelve- page photo insert--not seen)

Pub Date: July 19th, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-09311-X
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1993