cover image The Quiet Zone: Unraveling the Mystery of a Town Suspended in Silence

The Quiet Zone: Unraveling the Mystery of a Town Suspended in Silence

Stephen Kurczy. Dey Street, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-294549-5

Journalist Kurczy debuts with a colorful yet diffuse examination of life in Green Bank, W.Va., the so-called “quietest town in America.” Home to a federal radio astronomy observatory that measures “invisible energy waves” from space, Green Bank is part of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a region covering more than 13,000 square miles where wireless communication signals and devices with electromagnetic emissions are tightly restricted. Kurczy interviews “electrosensitives” who have come to the Quiet Zone to escape debilitating illnesses they believe are caused by electromagnetic radiation, but he soon discovers that many Green Bank residents do, in fact, use Wi-Fi and other prohibited devices. He also examines other distinctive influences in Pocahontas County, including Patch Adams’s Gesundheit! Institute, which has solicited millions of dollars since the 1970s to build an as-yet-unrealized free hospital, and the National Alliance, a white supremacist group. Though Kurczy comes to view the region as “less and less Walden and more and more weird,” he maintains an appreciation for the “pared-down” pace of life. The narrative rambles and the stakes feel rather low, but Kurczy succeeds in unlocking many secrets of this insular community. Readers will enjoy the peek behind the curtain. Agent: Larry Weissman, Larry Weissman Literary. (Aug.)