Year of the Comets
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About the Author

Jan DeBlieu, a recipient of the John Burroughs Medal for Wind, contributes frequently to Audubon, the New York Times Magazine, and Orion. The Cape Hatteras Coastkeeper for the North Carolina Coastal Federation, she is also the author of Hatteras Journal and Meant to be Wild, chosen by the Library Journal as one of 1992's best science books of the year.

Reviews

As in her previous book, Wind, DeBlieu uses forces of nature to illuminate the human condition. Here she brackets the harrowing story of her husband's severe depression with the appearances of the comets Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp; in between these astronomical events, she reflects on the chaos and order of the cosmos by weaving a well-paced history of stargazing. But it is the inner universe that dominates: "Demons of the mind: they dwell at the core of this account, alongside the lighted angels that perch in the heavens." And while many amateur astronomers have told their stories, few have had to raise a toddler and deal with a withdrawn and angry husband at the same time, so when DeBlieu goes outside and lies flat on the asphalt to examine the stars, one wonders if she wouldn't rather just stay there for a while. But eventually life begins to improve. "It's the same whether you're searching for personal truths or scientific fact," DeBlieu observes. "Something happens, some sequence of events that elicits a flash of understanding." Seeing significance in the arrival and departure of comets is not unusual, but DeBlieu finds more than portents of doom; instead, grief and longing are tempered by the hope that things might look up again some night. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"As in her previous book, Wind, DeBlieu uses forces of nature to illuminate the human condition. Here she brackets the harrowing story of her husband's severe depression with the appearances of the comets Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp; in between these astronomical events, she reflects on the chaos and order of the cosmos by weaving a well-paced history of stargazing."
"Books about black holes and galaxies abound. Much rarer are books that show how the cosmos touches our innermost lives. By interweaving her family's struggles with exceptionally lucid ruminations on stargazing and astrophysics, Jan DeBlieu makes plain what many stargazers no doubt feel but dare not say--that looking skyward at night satisfies a deep need to escape the trials of the day."
"DeBlieu, an award-winning natural-history writer, skillfully folds the scientific information she has had to master--neurological as well as astronomical--into a memoir of toughing out hard times with help from the heavens."
"DeBlieu's... work brings [her] routinely to the edge of wonder--to space and infinity, in DeBlieu's central metaphor--and therefore to great depths of emotion."
"A poetic compendium of wind phenomenon and a hymn of praise for these towering movements of the air."

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