Total Pageviews

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Writer's Life 6/7 - Storm

I don't read much non-fiction. I picked up Erik Larson's Isaac's Storm assuming it was a fictionalized account of the Galveston hurricane of September 1900, the worst in U.S. history. It is so absorbing and so well-written that I stuck with it. The only thing I'd known about the city, besides that it is on the Gulf of Mexico, is the popular Glen Campbell song, which writer Jimmy Webb intended as anti-war. According to Wiki, he did not like Campbell's rendition. Regardless, it was a big hit. It has nothing to do with the event in question. The man in the book's title was the area meteorologist's. The practice was in its infancy at the time, and still isn't full proof today. Isaac underestimated the storm. Hindsight is 20-20. There had never been a big blow like it in the area. He paid a severe price, his wife drowning. The accounts, which the author obtained from historical documents and correspondences, are often gut-wrenching. The town was almost completely destroyed. It is estimated that 8000 were killed, many struck by debris that included slate roof shingles. The city was rebuilt, a seawall, pictured above, erected. Galveston has experienced many hurricanes since. The death toll in all of them is less than 100, at least as of 2000, the year the book was published. The population today is 48,000+. It is a tourist mecca, its climate tropical. Larson not only covers the storm in question, he includes a lot of weather history. The most interesting point is that in 1780 three intense storms struck the Caribbean in ten days. Curiously, the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of 1889, which occurred when days of heavy rain broke a damn, is not mentioned. 2209 were killed. Of course, reading such accounts will likely make one consider current climate hysteria. I don't know if climate is posing a bigger problem than ever before, but crazy weather, obviously, is not something new. Fortunately, meteorology has advanced enough to provide localities with warnings. It may behoove coastal areas to do what Galveston did in building its seawall. Larson, a journalist who has done pieces for The Wall Street Journal, Time, the New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly, has ten other works of non-fiction in print. 1097 readers at Amazon have rated Isaac's Storm, forging to a consensus of 4.3 of five, a tad high perhaps. There is a lot of extraneous detail in its 273 pages (large Vintage paperback). Overall, much of it is riveting. The research he did, listed under Notes, is impressive. And it's still selling, at last check 2422nd. There are more than 11 million books listed at Amazon. Kudos, sir.  

Here's what I found the most interesting in today's NY Post: In an op-ed piece, Jillian Kay Melchior calls for the use of DDT in fighting the Zika virus, claiming its ban was due to shoddy science, and citing a recent documentary that attributes 1.5 million deaths to the ban. I've read articles about not only the deaths by malaria in Africa but the physical damage many of the survivors suffer. It seems common sense to allow the occasional use of DDT, but environmentalists have won the day, and it is highly unlikely the ban will be lifted... From the Weird But True column: surveillance footage reveals who was behind the theft of $144 from a cash register in a jewelry store in India -- a monkey!... And in his gossip column, Richard Johnson devotes his end quote to Jim Goad, who offered this thought in an article at "A central topic of the campaign is always whether Donald Trump hates women -- and never whether Hillary Clinton hates men."

As I was setting up the floating book shop today, a thirtyish woman approached and asked she could sleep in my car. Although I said no, she bought a book in Russian. My thanks, and to the burly Russian gentleman who purchased Rising Star, and to Jimmy, who bought pictorials on Marilyn Monroe, TV, art, England and Brooklyn; and to the other kind folks who bought wares. All the DVDs and pictorials are gone. Sales are likely to drop off considerably.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:


No comments:

Post a Comment