The Coalwood Way

Homer H. Hickam, Author Delacorte Press $23.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-385-33516-4
In his bestselling memoir, Rocket Boys (which became the 1999 movie October Sky), former NASA engineer Hickam looked back at the mining town of Coalwood, W.Va., when the 1957 ascent of Sputnik prompted Sonny and his teenage pals to launch their own rockets and aim at the stars. This sequel is set in 1959, when Sonny is a high school senior, still sending up rockets at ""Cape Coalwood,"" at local launches that became full-scale social events with numerous spectators: ""Even the Big Creek cheerleaders came, dressed in full uniform."" Hickam digs deeper into his own family life, recalling an ambivalent relationship with his father, the superintendent of the local mine: ""My dad was, in many ways, [a] general, plotting strategy and tactics against an unyielding foe, the mine itself."" Hearing the constant miner's cough in her own house, Hickam's mother, Elsie, wants to leave the coal dust-covered community for the ""fresh, clean air"" of Myrtle Beach, since ""she knew very well lung spots never got smaller, only bigger,"" but Homer Sr. is determined to stay and save the mine. Amid the resulting household tension, Sonny suffers from an inexplicable sadness, despite his growing relationship with a local girl and his various science and writing projects. His recollections are occasionally reminiscent of the youthful exploits in tales by Jean Shepherd and Ray Bradbury, but Hickam's voice is his own. Recalling a lost eraDthe transition between small-town life and the dawning of the new technological ageDhe brings his American hometown to life with vivid images, appealing characters and considerable literary magic. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-52762-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 400 pages - 978-0-440-23716-7
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-25160-0
Prebound-Sewn - 360 pages - 978-0-7569-0770-9
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-307-42332-0
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7887-5320-6
Prebound-Glued - 360 pages - 978-1-4176-1737-1
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