Sometimes when you live through a storm and its aftermath, the very last thing you want to do is read a novel based on the storm. How very cliché it seems. How obvious. How ridiculous. This is precisely why I’ve shied away from fiction with Hurricane Katrina as a backdrop. Because when people try to write novels based in south Louisiana, it is so often fraught with bad accents, and moss-draped trees and crazy mama drama. The content is so terribly trite.
This is not that book.
A Thousand Miles from Nowhere is a fictional account of Henry Garrett, a man who flees New Orleans in the days following Katrina and finds himself in a small Virginia town after losing everything. But Garrett knows that he lost everything before the storm ever made landfall: He left his wife, he squandered his inheritance and he quit his job. And slowly, as he begins to realize, he was losing his mind.
Author John Gregory Brown poetically paints the picture, not of physical efforts of recovering from Katrina, but of a man recovering from a personal storm that almost cost him everything. Garrett is profoundly touched by the lives of those around him in Virginia, and even literature proves to help him heal.
Garrett wonders “if a story, a single story, could possess such power that as a result of its telling, of its words being pronounced, a life would be transformed.”
This is a book to savor slowly, because the words and the way that they are delivered are as poignant as the story itself.