Wide Blue Yonder: A Novel
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From National Book Award-finalist Jean Thompson comes a compelling, highly charged novel about a family ruled by the weather, the drastic changes that hit their atmosphere, and a midwestern town where chaos doesn't reign -- it pours.
Something big is headed for Springfield, Illinois, a place where weather of all kinds -- climatic, emotional, and even metaphysical -- tends to come in extremes. It is the summer of 1999, and through the long months of blazing heat and fearsome tempests, a quirky quartet of locals will try to ride out the stormy season, each in their own way.
Uncle Harvey believes he is the embodiment of the Weather Channel's "Local Forecast," even though all meteorological evidence points to the contrary. His niece, Josie, is fixed with a different predicament -- she's young and pretty, with nowhere to go except into deep trouble. Her mother, Elaine, lives under a façade of cheerful efficiency, desperately masking a far more urgent quest. And all of them are caught in the path of the loner Rolando -- a human cyclone from the West, fueled by a boundless rage and determined to make Springfield the focal point of his wrath.
expected to miss, he would miss the whole of them. On the avenue the night would just now be getting underway, the cars cruising slow and soft through the wash of lights and music, the sidewalk busy with sellers of CDs and silver and T-shirts, doorways propped open for a glimpse of the ruby-lit darkness inside, and everywhere the beautiful, beautiful girls … But he steered clear of all this and hiked on as far as the small, nearly grassless park. Two younger boys were playing basketball in a
and tried to get his mouth moving. “Daddy said.” “What’s that, Harvey?” She leaned in close to him. She had a face that asked questions even when she didn’t talk. “You know what would be a good idea for you? Sunglasses. Here. That better?” “Daddy said the world shall be destroyed by fire.” “Slow down, I can’t understand you. Are you worried about the car? The car has air-conditioning too. I promise I’ll drive extra careful.” The world flew by in bits and streaks. Its colors were melting. The
it out.” Important cop voice. Like she was just a little kid. He sighed and plucked his shirt collar away from his neck, as if the heat was getting to him. “You listening back there?” Total power trip. Nya nya. Josie tried her Tough Girl sneer, couldn’t get the proper lift to it. Couldn’t even pretend to be angry at him. Every time she looked at him she felt the cheap crockery in her chest break all over again. “OK, we’re leaving your car here and I’m going to take you home.” She gaped at
screwed up. But I still want to.” She let the back of her hand rest, almost carelessly, against his crotch. He drew a long breath and they started in kissing and she thought maybe she’d change her mind and they’d do it anyway, right there in Uncle Harvey’s driveway. But he disengaged himself. “Boy.” “I’ll say.” “Do you like the mustache? You never said.” “It’s totally great.” “You think so?” He tilted his head to catch his reflection in the rearview mirror. “You don’t think it looks faggy?”
somewhere the radio didn’t go. He played the tape because it was noise, and because those angels sang Ohh like it was a whole entire language. He tried to sing along with them, beating time on the steering wheel, and laughed because he sounded like a damn goat. Then the dude came on, the one that wanted to be his best friend, and his voice was like chocolate syrup pouring over clean snow. “Weary? Confused? Anxious? The chaos of our times affects us all. The barriers in the mind reflect the