Wide Blue Yonder

A Novel

Wide Blue Yonder

A National Book Award finalist for her story collection Who Do You Love, Jean Thompson towers into the stratosphere with her new novel, Wide Blue Yonder.

It is the summer of 1999, and something big and bad is coming to Springfield, Illinois, "the place the Weather lived." Wide Blue Yonder is a novel about weather in all its permutations -- climatic, emotional, even metaphysical. Our guides through this summer of blazing heat and fearsome storms compose an unlikely quartet, each preparing in some measure for the end of the world.

Uncle Harvey believes he is the Weather Channel's "Local Forecast." Yet even an arsenal of meteorological facts and figures can't stanch his existential fears. Harvey's niece, Josie, is fixed with a different predicament. She's seventeen, with nowhere to get to in the Land of Lincoln except into deep trouble. Josie's mother, Elaine, feigns cheerful efficiency, desperately masking a far more urgent quest. And then there's the loner Rolando, who hails from Los Angeles. A human storm system fueled by boundless rage, Rolando is on course to make Springfield the ground zero of his wrath.

Newsweek memorably described Thompson's previous collection, Who Do You Love, as "a beautiful book, but a hell of a sad one." Wide Blue Yonder burns brighter, yet moves in the same mysterious ways.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 368 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439129982 | 
  • June 2010
List Price $18.99 (price may vary by retailer)

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Reading Group Guide

A Simon & Schuster
Reading Group Guide
Wide Blue Yonder
Like all my books, Wide Blue Yonder began with something small -- the idea of a man watching the Weather Channel -- and grew to fill a space. Early on I knew who Uncle Harvey would be: innocent, damaged, isolated. Once I found a language for the dialogue of his inner life, many of the specifics about him seemed to follow naturally. Of course he would live in a run-down house with a spoiled cat, of course he would grow a haphazard garden, eat ice cream straight out of the carton, and so on. When I tried to imagine who else might be involved with such an unsocial character, I naturally thought of family, and then invented a health crisis that would cause the family to intervene. Josie and her mother, Elaine, and all the secondary characters that branch off from them, derive from that basic plot necessity. Rolando Gottschalk, of course, is the wild card, a force of will, personality, and nature, that disrupts the expected course of events and, I hope, expands the book's scope.
The wonderful thing about the Weather Channel, for Harvey and I suppose anyone else who watches it, is that you can sit alone in your own living room and feel like a participant in matters of global import. I wanted to make that connection between individual lives, even seemingly insignificant lives, and the metaphysical. Harvey constructs his own version of the afterlife, while Elaine ponders the requirements for hap see more

More Books from this Author

The Year We Left Home
Do Not Deny Me
Throw Like A Girl
City Boy

About the Author

Jean Thompson
Marion Ettlinger

Jean Thompson

Jean Thompson is a novelist and short story writer. Her works include the novels A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl, She Poured Out Her Heart, The Humanity Project, The Year We Left Home, City Boy, Wide Blue Yonder, The Woman Driver, and My Wisdom and the short story collections The Witch and Other Tales Re-Told, Do Not Deny Me, Throw Like a Girl, Who Do You Love (a National Book Award finalist), Little Face and Other Stories, and The Gasoline Wars. Thompson’s short fiction has been published in many magazines and journals, including the New Yorker, and anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize. Thompson has been the recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, among other accolades, and has taught creative writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Reed College, Northwestern University, and other colleges and universities. She lives in Urbana, Illinois.