When a deadly hurricane touches down in tiny Bentleyville, N.C., a TV weatherman is literally blown away during a live shot and launched into fame and celebrity in Jaffe's sardonic third novel. Devastated by the stillborn birth of his first child and the end of his marriage, Lucas Prouty, the disaffected weatherman, spends his time getting soused at a seedy strip joint named Stinky's, where he strikes up a tender friendship cum romance with the bartender, Kiki. The arrival of Hurricane Isabel turns 30-something Prouty into a national hero when he survives the near-deadly live shot and is found in the rubble long after the storm passes. His misadventures land him on a national talk show, and he receives a lucrative offer from a New York network. Prouty's deadpan take on his professional dilemma and Jaffe's sharp, ironic satire of the TV news industry is lively and funny. But his commentary on celebrity wears thin, his failure to develop Kiki keeps the romance from picking up the slack, and a tepid ending compounds the problem by only hinting at a final choice between network job and full-blown romance. Jaffe has some great comic moments early on, but the thin plotting is exposed when the humor loses steam. Agent, Georges Borchardt. (Oct. 11)
Forecast: Jaffe might get a momentary boost from the media coverage of this year's particularly fierce hurricane season among readers seeking comic relief.