The magic in this book is how Johnson creates an intoxicating, chaotic world that you don't particularly enjoy, but which you're in no hurry to leave.The magic in this book is how Johnson creates an intoxicating, chaotic world that you don't particularly enjoy, but which you're in no hurry to leave. A few days after the novel you're back in "the world" and perhaps get some taste of the difference. This is how it diverges from most from other big, bold Vietnam stories I've read.
I told a friend that Tree of Smoke does everything with war that Vonnegut wanted to do, but with a gravitas the old Master couldn't sustain, and everything that Pynchon attempts with his mind-bending distortions of reality (most successfully in Mason & Dixon), but with a narrative focus that tolerates emotional resonance with the characters.
It's immersing, playful, and transporting, with language as musical and precise as any new book since Gilead. I wish it were twice as long....more
"Mike and Eric seem to have taken the art of storm photography to new heights...they have produced images that speak eloquently about the grandeur and"Mike and Eric seem to have taken the art of storm photography to new heights...they have produced images that speak eloquently about the grandeur and beauty of storms that many people will never see for themselves."
--from the introduction by Dr. Charles A. Doswell III
I'm resurrecting my blog to post about a new book, ADVENTURES IN TORNADO ALLEY: THE STORMS CHASERS, by Mike Hollingshead and Eric Nguyen. This book will be released in the U.S. on April 28, 2008. Full disclosure first: I'm biased because both authors are good friends of mine and my name is mentioned more than once in the text---but I don't make any money from the sales or have any interest other than promoting the book because I think it's an outstanding product.
Mike and Eric are two of the finest weather photographers in the world, and this book is essentially a greatest hits collection from their individual catalogs. Every page contains one stunning image after another, carefully reproduced on heavy, quality stock. The book is organized by chase day or event, with about six individual chases from Mike, four solo chases by Eric, and the rest featuring pictures from both photographers, usually from different angles to give real dramatic range to the imagery. Accompanying the photos is text from both describing their forecast process and tactical decisions they made in the field. Since Mike and Eric have different styles of chasing, this makes for an interesting contrast as well as an entertaining and informative explanation for various shots.
The introduction by tornado scientist and longtime chaser Charles Doswell sets the tone, describing the allure of storm chasing and placing Mike and Eric's work in the context of those who came before them. Toward the end of the book, Dr. Doswell provides an explanation behind the science of severe weather, an easy-to-understand and memorable description of how such sudden mountains of air and water appear on the plains.
What I like most about the book is how it reflects the values of my two friends: the spectacle of atmospheric phenomena. Their vision is focused strictly outward, on the subjects of their photographs, such as the classic supercells of the northern plains or LPs in New Mexico, Mike's breathtaking auroras in winter, or Eric's timeless shots of the Mulvane, Kansas white tornado and rainbow.
Most chasers know that Eric passed away in the summer of 2007. This collection of images is the perfect tribute to his career as a storm observer and photographer, both in form and content. I believe Eric would agree that the book depicts chasing the way many of us know and love it best, as an escape from daily hassles into the theater of the sky, where an awe-inspiring show plays every spring: the severe storms of the Tornado Alley.
"In storm chasing, you have the chance to see a pageant of power and elegant form unfold before your eyes, even in the absence of the ultimate: a tornado. Mike and Eric have captured that over and over in these images."