LUNATIC WIND: Surviving the Storm of the Century by William Price Fox

LUNATIC WIND: Surviving the Storm of the Century

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What's it like to be caught in a thunderous downpour swept by 150-mph winds with a tidal wave heading straight at you? Sheer terror, of course--which novelist Fox (Dixiana Moon, 1980) evokes vividly in detailing how Hurricane Hugo gobbled up the South Carolina shore in 1989. Fox interweaves two types of narrative here. One periodically sets the scene by means of brief notes on South Carolina, on Charleston (which Hugo devastated), on hurricane lore (most of it very familiar), on the clean-up after the storm, and so on. These fact-and-figure passages, though informative, contain little kick, and most readers will find themselves flipping to Fox's second group of narratives--his ""docu-drama"" reenactments, based on intensive interviews but using composite characters, of how several bands of people lived through Hugo. These vignettes, intended to ""convey the feel of the storm,"" are terrifically gripping. Central among them is the saga of two teenage boys caught in a beach house: ""He spun back around to see the surf. The water was black as ink and coming at them like a moving cliff."" When the storm surge smashes their house, the boys take refuge on a neighboring roof only to be targeted by a tornado: ""They grabbed each other's arms and held onto the chimney as they were lifted up and stretched out like washing on a clothesline and whipped from side to side."" Also outstanding are stories of a shrimp-boat captain riding out the hurricane on his ship and of residents of a small town sheltering in their local high school aa the storm surge hits with such force that through the glass doors they can see ""fish and shrimp...swimming around."" Too much chalk-and-blackboard stuff, but Fox cuts to the chase often enough to make this generally prime fare for stormnauts, far superior to John Fuller's comparable Tornado Watch #211 (1987).

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1992
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Algonquin