Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: August 17, 2021
by George R. Stewart, introduction by Nathaniel Rich
August 2021 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club
With Storm, first published in 1941, George R. Stewart invented a new genre of fiction: the eco-novel. California has been plunged into drought throughout the summer and fall when a ship reports an unusual barometric reading from the far western Pacific. In San Francisco, a junior meteorologist in the Weather Bureau takes note of the anomaly and plots “an incipient little whorl” on the weather map, a developing storm, he suspects, that he privately dubs Maria. Stewart’s novel tracks Maria’s progress to and beyond the shores of the United States through the eyes of meteorologists, linemen, snowplow operators, a general, a couple of decamping lovebirds, and an unlucky owl, and the storm, surging and ebbing, will bring long-needed rain, flooded roads, deep snows, accidents, and death. Storm is an epic account of humanity’s relationship to and dependence on the natural world.
Man versus nature, and the ability of humans to cope under environmental stress, are Stewart’s two obsessions. He is at once a chronicler of the achievements and architectures of modern civilization and an ecological fatalist. . . . In Storm, he went so far as to write what he called a biography of the weather.
—Christine Smallwood, The Nation
Weather is here for the first time given the importance in fiction that it has in fact. . . . It is impossible to forget, anywhere in the novel, the impending weight of that mighty movement of the air. . . . Stewart with admirable ingenuity and sure craftsmanship has let us look for a moment at the mortar that holds a civilization together. A good many of his readers will never again . . . note a cloud without remembering at least momentarily that the air, not the earth, is our mortal home.
—Wallace Stegner, The Boston Globe
[Stewart] presents meteorological detail with obsessive care, although not without wry humor. . . . By looking down on society from the height of a tempest, [Storm] frames all human and animal lives—earnest and ignorant, shaped by forces they forget to consider—as being on the same side as they strive for meaning and survival.
—Blair Braverman, The New York Times Book Review
The storm itself . . . becomes absorbing as few human characters, in fiction, ever are. It is a splendid job of research and design.
Storm is considered the first of its kind, paving the way for an entire genre of fiction, the eco-novel. Fans of The Overstory will be transfixed with this reissue, which follows the storm every day of its existence as we would a volatile and dramatic character, and leaves us with a renewed awareness of the interconnectedness of our mysterious and awe-inspiring world.
—Julia Hass, Lit Hub
A massive winter storm brings destruction, peril, and death to drought-plagued California. . . . A new introduction by Nathaniel Rich provides historical context for Stewart's reissued classic, first published in 1941. Pure excitement for eco-fiction fans.
—Kirkus, starred review
[Storm’s] very structure is anti-anthropocentric. Unfolding over twelve chapters, each corresponding to a different day, the novel proceeds mosaic-like. . . . Everything, both manmade and natural, is connected in Storm’s ecosystem; everything that happens has wide-ranging consequences, the butterfly effect in full force.
—Andrew Schenker, The Baffler
Unlike anything else out there.
—Stuart Miller, The Orange County Register
Viewed through the prisms of climatological, geological, and evolutionary processes, humans are more or less interchangeable, their parochial concerns necessarily banal. This is what Stewart’s work conveys at its best: a sense of humility and an appreciation of the contingent status of our own species, endlessly threatened as it is by a relentless, hostile nature. . . Stewart’s body of work feels proleptically tailored to an era of catastrophic ecological decline. . . . Storm is a dense web of accidents, a vast orchestral work in which each moving part bespeaks an organic relationship to the whole.
—Matthew Sherrill, Harper’s