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The Secret of Hurricanes [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Secret of Hurricanes by Theresa Williams...

Pearl Starling is forty-five, a hermit with a "colorful past" -- a past filled with treachery and desire, death and survival -- who makes her living weaving rugs in a North Carolina military town. For years she has been an object of curiosity and scorn, and now she has defied society's conventions once again: she is pregnant and no one knows who the father is.

In The Secret of Hurricanes, Pearl tells her unborn child about how she has weathered the "hurricanes" in her life -- from religiously reading the local newspaper to drawing inspiration from the Kennedys' abiding strength in the face of tragedy. Traveling the dark roads of her past, Pearl reveals how her need for tenderness led to sexual confusion, a relationship with a much older man, and her part in a murder thirty years ago.

Written in language as precise and artful as poetry, The Secret of Hurricanes is by turns funny and poignant, and full of everyday acts of heartbreak and bravery.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   209
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.04" Width: 6.34" Height: 0.89"
Weight:   0.69 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2002
Publisher   MacAdam/Cage
ISBN  1931561109  
ISBN13  9781931561105  

Availability  0 units.

More About Theresa Williams

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Theresa Williams teaches writing and literature at Bowling Green State University and lives in Bradner, Ohio.

Theresa Williams currently resides in Bradner, in the state of Ohio. Theresa Williams was born in 1956.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Comics & Graphic Novels > General
2Books > Subjects > Comics & Graphic Novels > Graphic Novels > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States

Reviews - What do customers think about The Secret of Hurricanes?

A troubled Life!  Mar 18, 2005
It seemed that Peral could go through life and deal with so much turmoil. I believe it was because she knew of nothing else. Looking for love in all the wrong places. Her self esteam was so low that she just took what she could get.

What she got was trouble and grief. Looking back on her life, hindsight is 20/20. I can defintely relate to that.

I will recomend this book to many people.

Daniel Kellenbarger
A Phoenix in North Carolina  Mar 12, 2005
In her book, THE SECRET OF HURRICANES, author Theresa Williams weaves her story together like her protagonist, Pearl Starling, creates the rag rugs she sells. Bits and pieces from broken lives, rich and poor, edgy and sad, cross over and under each other in this tale of innocence and shame.

Pearl is a survivor, huddling in the eye of the hurricanes that batter and rage all around her. From the dingy and loveless trailer that serves as her home from childhood to the present, Pearl rises like a phoenix again and again from circumstances that destroy or wear down her family and neighbors.

We first meet the mysteriously pregnant Pearl as an adult, the town eccentric. The mystery of her pregnancy ("who's the father?") intrigues the whole neighborhood. Set in a gray, characterless community surrounding a North Carolina military base, with the menace of the Vietnam War hovering in the background, the story traces Pearl's budding adolescence and teen years. We see the misery of her home life, the inevitable attraction to the wealthy family that lives on the other side of the highway. We watch her making seemingly self-destructive choices in an attempt to escape a brutal father and helpless mother. Although she scarcely knows it as a child, she is trying to grasp onto life and to find some kind of connection with another human being. Instead, her choices take her farther and farther from the solace she is seeking. Pearl travels a solitary path, parallel to the paths of other lost souls, a way that leads to a life-changing explosion that lives on in community gossip for years. But still our Pearl survives, ultimately telling her tale to the unborn daughter in her womb. Pearl finally knows who she is and is at peace with it.

Williams writes with a dark clarity and flashes of brilliance in her descriptions of Pearl and her town. She has a powerful ability to draw pictures with words ("...I noticed how paint was peeling off the walls, like dead skin" and "That day Daddy's life looked like the bent chair he was sitting in.") She draws in her readers inexorably as we trudge with Pearl along her painful trail. We find ourselves rooting for this lost waif, grubby and forlorn though she is, cheering her moments of boldness and anger, wincing as she dances into yet another hopeless quest for acceptance. We end up admiring this woman who has been through the fires and who has emerged wise and strong to live again and to deliver a new life from the ashes of her own.

This is a book for language connoisseurs, for poets, for mothers and fathers, for readers who like to get their teeth into a good story, for women, for soldiers, for all who have fought against great odds. Ultimately it is a "Rocky" story. Against all odds, our little girl survives.
a pearl of a novel  Feb 24, 2005
I'm not much taken with female contemporary writers. They aren't often brave enough for me. So I was excited to come across this very courageous, eloquent, profound coming-of-age novel. The main charcter, Pearl, says, "I know what it's like being young." The most talented writers remember each nuance, as does Williams. But her talent goes beyond writing about youth. I look forward to reading more from this writer, who is able to encapsulate the most profound, internal truths into a simple, poetic insight that will burst through your conventional thought barriers.
Forgiving the Sky  Nov 12, 2004
"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it." That was Holden Caulfield in *The Catcher in the Rye* and that's exactly how I feel about The *Secret of Hurricanes.*

After reading the book, I wanted to call Theresa Williams up on the phone and ask her stuff and tell her stuff. It's not that the story itself is so very unusual - reminds me a little of *Them* by Joyce Carol Oates or with her clipped, terse sentences, Williams is somewhat like a female Hemmingway, but after reading this book, as well as a short story by Theresa Williams called "Blue Velvis" published in *The Sun Magazine*, I guarantee that you could hand me a pile of manuscripts, all by different unnamed authors, and after reading them, I could pick out hers as soon as I got to it. She's that unusual. I mean, as my 8th grade English teacher used to say, she has a "voice."

"I like to be able to reach out and feel life's edges," says Pearl, (the main character), and that's what this book does - plumbs the edges. The whole narrative is a dialogue with Pearl's unborn daughter (Pearl just KNOWS her child will be female).

The voice of Pearl Starling, is authentic and unique. Pearl would be dubbed "trailer trash" by many in our society and she knows it, but she doesn't let that kill her soul. She is, as Shakespeare mused, - "a lady more sinned against than sinning." Her narrative isn't a litany of sins against her, however; they're only noted. What she went through changed, shaped and informed her life - but that's all. She hasn't been snuffed out mentally, physically or emotionally. Her pregnancy at the age of 45 is a personal triumph and source of delight for her, and she especially relishes the unsatisfied curiosity of her neighbors as to the identity of the father of her child.

The Pentecostals tried to pry the info out of her in the guise of a witnessing call. Pearl had been involved with them when she was 16 and suddenly alone in the world but for an abusive father and a next-door neighbor, father of three daughters in her age range, who gave her guidance and attention when she needed it.

In Pearl's memory, a woman of the Pentecostals that she already knew, "...put her hand on my back, raised her other hand, tilted her face heavenward. The old man touched my shoulder and prayed in tongues, that obscure language. I stayed, let them beseach, but told myself, `After this, no more of this touching.' I felt no comfort in it. Just a vast emptiness. Like the daytime sky was inside me. Limitless. Blank. `Just leave me,' I was thinking. `Leave me to this vacancy'".

Talking to this unborn daughter, she tells her that "One night, not long ago, I dreamed about your birth. You were a red moon slipped out from some dark corner of the sky. A real piece of sky I could hold. It made me want to forgive the sky. For both its calm betrayal and for its frightful storms. My dream made me want to forgive the sky. A little. `That's right,' I said, `Drink it in. Your life. The air. Use your own mouth to tell the world what you want.' "

Why does she need to forgive the sky, you may wonder? Read the book and find out.

Emotional devastation and a shattered childhood  Dec 4, 2003
At first glance, this novel is full of lyricism, of powerful images, memories and the intimate landscape of abandonment as Pearl Starling, a forty-five-year-old woman, a now-pregnant eccentric, relates her solitary life. She receives some small comfort by withholding the name of the father from the town, allowing them their own assumptions.

Pearl ruminates over the losses of the Kennedy family, identifying with the family's consuming grief, offering a hint of the sorrow that she has carried through the years, albeit of a much darker nature. This sorrow is the defining emotion of Pearl's life. As a young girl, Pearl is loved distantly by her mother and ignored by her alcoholic, womanizing father, the emotions of the three Starlings confined to their small trailer in Waterville, North Carolina; Pearl still lives in that trailer, alone.

Reaching puberty, the young Pearl aches for affection, without comprehension of appropriate boundaries. Her developing body seeks this attention from the opposite sex, older boys from a military base near town and a neighbor as old as her father. Not understanding the complications of sexuality, Pearl has no emotional compass, no one to guide her out-of-bounds yearnings, drawn to the most dangerous men who use her as they see fit.

There is a difference between exploring memories, putting such horrors finally at rest and moving into the present. Revisiting the past as an exercise of memory can be a dangerous endeavor when boundaries are an issue. Pearl is unable to break free of her crippling experiences and the attendant guilt, in a futile search for emotional satiety that doesn't exist.

Throughout, Pearl is telling the story to her unborn child, whom she believes will be a daughter. Through the protagonist the author speaks of hope, but her actions are those of loss and repetition. The quality of Pearl's motherhood will be determined by the vocabulary she chooses. Luan Gaines/2003.


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