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Friday, October 19, 2007

It was a dark and stormy night--

I lit a couple of candles when the electric lights started wobbling as we were settling down with our books after dinner. Then came the wind and rain and hail. We really got socked but didn’t lost power. You see here the rain and hail, with branches still and water pouring straight down, all obviously after the great winds that prevented my opening the door earlier.

Friend Susan’s question yesterday about a book featuring lots of rain had sent me searching through shelves at Dog Ears Books. Many novels have rainy scenes crucial to the plot, but could I find a whole book full of rain? I plucked likely-sounding titles off the shelf: Nevil Shute’s IN THE WET; Harry Hemelman’s WEDNESDAY THE RABBI GOT WET; something else I can’t remember. In the end I brought home George R. Meredith’s STORM, published in 1941.

Novelist, essayist, photographer, Meredith achieved Modern Library status but was not included in my ENCYCLOPEDIA OF LITERATURE, so I’ve had to look around to the Internet to find out more about him. He was fascinated by American places, place names, roads, and agents of change—fire, hurricane, viruses—and his interests ranged across the continent and across scientific knowledge.

STORM begins like a modern disaster movie. We are taken inside the weather station, where all official predictions are for continued fair weather, though one old codger, long retired but still a frequent visitor, says he knows it’s going to rain. The scene shifts to a road crew out in the mountains, a ship at sea, a pilot over the Pacific, all of them alert to the weather but still with no idea of what’s coming their way.

“Over all the top of the world rested unbroken darkness like a cap. Through that polar night the flow of heat off into outer space was like the steady drain of blood from an open wound.” But shortly after this point, lulled by a calm after our own storm, I fell asleep….

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