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Esquire
Wednesday, October 20th, 2004


 

Whirlwind

by Michael Grant Jaffe

Erratic Weather

A review by Anna Godbersen

Lucas Prouty's life really couldn't get much worse. Now in his late thirties, he is stuck working as the weather forecaster for WYIP, a small-town TV station in Bentleyville, North Carolina. It is a job that affords him lots of humiliation but little prestige. (One incident involves the near-death of a water-skiing squirrel.) He spends his nights at Stinky's, the local strip club, getting wasted and then routinely rejected by Kiki the bartender. And then there's a dark side, too: He's still recovering from his failed marriage and the stillbirth of what would have been his first child. Things are so low that he very nearly prays for dramatic weather, just to give his life a little kick. The dramatic weather comes of course, in the form of Hurricane Isabel, one of the three worst storms of the last hundred years. Prouty's daring and dangerous live coverage turns him into an accidental celebrity of absurd proportions, and his life is transformed. At its worst, Whirlwind reads like a tired satire of our media saturated times. (When Prouty goes on a late night talk show, the musical guest is a band with the unfortunate name of Soft Bunz.) But at its best, Jaffe's third novel is a humorous and engaging look at the lure of fame and the enduring appeal of the little things in life.


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