Daniel Fights a Hurricane by Shane Jones

Shane Jones’ 2012 novel is written like a painting: hypnotic and illusory, as it follows Daniel Suppleton on his tragic descent into madness, and his ex-wife’s desperate struggle to help him. On the outside, the story is about Daniel, who must build a pipeline to save his town’s water supply. On the inside, the story is about his fear — Daniel’s gripping fear of hurricanes which stems from a deeper-rooted fear of death and having the things he loves taken from him. In a last-ditch cry for help, he begs his ex, Karen, to pose as his unofficial therapist, and the story often jumps between these two worlds: the real world with Karen, static and languid, and the surreal dreamscape he has crafted in his mind, which is fluid and colorful.

Jones’ novel knows it’s beautiful and doesn’t apologize for it, yet the innards of this story are so heart-wrenchingly twisted, the reader is almost meant to feel terrible for being drawn into its purple prose and flowery devices. Throughout the novel, the reader is introduced to many endearing characters, such as the quirky Iamso, a little boy who writes poems and Peter, The World’s Most Beautiful Man With The World’s Worst Teeth, both of whom help our not-so-intrepid hero along in his quest to build the pipeline.

The saddest thing about the novel is that Daniel has no idea how deeply he’s delved into insanity, even in the end. He’s so far gone in his internal world, consumed by these anxieties and clinging to his delusions for refuge, that he inadvertently wrings the last vestiges of sanity from his mind and allows himself to sink into madness completely. His hurricane manifests itself in a physical way; he must fight it and it tears everything apart. And then the ending will rip your heart from your chest and run it through a meat grinder.

This is a book that will grip you in its clutches and shake you like a rattle. This is not a story about love or fate or happy endings. The epic hero has fallen to the bottom. He cracks.