Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival

Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival

3.8 59
by Norman Ollestad
     
 

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Dad Said

Olestad, we can do i t all. . . .

Why do you make me do this?

Because it's beautiful when it all comes together.

I don't think it's ever beautiful.

One day.

Never.

We'll see, my father said. Vamanos.

From the age of three, Norman Ollestad was thrust into

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Overview

Dad Said

Olestad, we can do i t all. . . .

Why do you make me do this?

Because it's beautiful when it all comes together.

I don't think it's ever beautiful.

One day.

Never.

We'll see, my father said. Vamanos.

From the age of three, Norman Ollestad was thrust into the world of surfing and competitive downhill skiing by the intense, charismatic father he both idolized and resented. While his friends were riding bikes, playing ball, and going to birthday parties, young Norman was whisked away in pursuit of wild and demanding adventures. Yet it were these exhilarating tests of skill that prepared "Boy Wonder," as his father called him, to become a fearless champion—and ultimately saved his life.

Flying to a ski championship ceremony in February 1979, the chartered Cessna carrying Norman, his father, his father's girlfriend, and the pilot crashed into the San Gabriel Mountains and was suspended at 8,200 feet, engulfed in a blizzard. "Dad and I were a team, and he was Superman," Ollestad writes. But now Norman's father was dead, and the devastated eleven-year-old had to descend the treacherous, icy mountain alone.

Set amid the spontaneous, uninhibited surf culture of Malibu and Mexico in the late 1970s, this riveting memoir, written in crisp Hemingwayesque prose, recalls Ollestad's childhood and the magnetic man whose determination and love infuriated and inspired him—and also taught him to overcome the indomitable. As it illuminates the complicated bond between an extraordinary father and his son, Ollestad's powerful and unforgettable true story offersremarkable insight for us all.

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Editorial Reviews

Pulitzer Prize-winner - Lucinda Franks
"Extraordinary—an adventure story with a rich psychological foundation from an enormously talented author. Crazy for the Storm is a powerful book. It deserves to be a bestseller."
Bill Gifford
…breathtaking…A portrait of a father's consuming love for his son, Crazy for the Storm will keep you up late into the night.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Ollestad's memoir intersperses his harrowing childhood trauma as the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed his father with his coming of age in the '70s West Coast culture of surfing, skiing and skateboarding. A competent and engaging narrator, Ollestad evokes emotional intensity without descending into sentimentality and creates memorable portraits of his heroic father and his mother's abusive boyfriend. Granted, Ollestad presents his 11-year-old self as a tad more introspective and worldly wise than one might expect, but as the adult Ollestad reflects on how he was shaped by the hard-living, extreme sports culture of his family and community, the essence of a young man forced to grow up too quickly rings true. An Ecco hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 23). (June)
Kirkus Reviews
An engrossing story of adventure, survival and psychological exploration. Ollestad hits several notes that should make his memoir irresistible to those looking for page-turning but thought-provoking summer reading along the lines of Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air (1997). In the winter of 1979, the 11-year-old Ollestad survived a plane crash in which his father and his father's girlfriend were killed. Alternating with young Norman's nine-hour trek to safety are scenes from the year preceding the crash, when the boy took a surfing trip with his father through the jungle along Mexico's Pacific coast. The flashbacks sections are the most fascinating parts of the book, and Ollestad ably captures the contrast between his charismatically cool father, Norman Sr., and his bullying stepfather-to-be, Nick. A photo of the elder Ollestad surfing with his one-year-old son strapped to his back captures the essence of the author's relationship with Norman Sr. He is convinced that his father's gentle but unyielding insistence that young Norman develop a sense of mastery over physical, emotional and mental challenges helped him survive the crash. The chapters that follow also suggest that his subtler ordeals with Nick were similarly important in the building of his character. Though some of the minutely detailed descriptions of his journey down the mountain read like creative-writing assignments gone awry, Ollestad presents a captivating account of high-altitude disaster that nicely dovetails with his coming-of-age story in '70s California. Deep and resonant. Author tour to Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and by request
New York Post
“An elegant memoir as well as a transformative coming-of-age tale. When he leaves his father’s limp body behind on the icy plateau—giving it a final kiss and caress as it’s claimed by the snow—Ollestad takes his first perilous steps not just into survival, but into adulthood.”
Washington Post Book World
“Breathtaking...A portrait of a father’s consuming love for his son, Crazy for the Storm will keep you up late into the night.”
Chicago Tribune
“Cinematic and personal . . . Ollestad’s insights into growing up in a broken home and adolescence in southern California are as engrossing as the story of his trip down the mountain.”
USA Today
“The memoir is as much about a father-son relationship as it is a survival story...Ollestad says his father’s life philosophy about surfing and skiing - ‘knowing there’s always a place to go and find peace, clear your mind’ - got him down the mountain and through life.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Riveting.”
BookPage
“At times beautiful, at times heart-wrenching, Crazy for the Storm is a commanding read—a tale that proves the power of the human spirit can rise against any challenge, and a father’s legacy can be more than he imagines.
Houston Chronicle
“Never a dull moment....[Ollestad has] written a beautiful story about a thrill-loving father — ‘the man with the sunshine in his eyes’— who taught his boy not just how to live, but how to thrive.”
Los Angeles Magazine
“A page-turning adventure tale . . . and a meditation on manhood.”
Jim Harrison
Crazy for the Storm is an absolutely compelling book which I read in one long sitting. The fact that it’s true made me shudder, but then Norman Ollestad is a fine writer and every detail is convincing.”
Janet Maslin
“Tragic and exotic ...[with] short, punchy chapters and...nonstop emphasis on adrenaline-fueled excitement.”
Carolyn See
“As much a thriller as a memoir . . . gorgeously written, perfectly controlled.”
Susan Cheever
“A heart-stopping adventure that ends in tragedy and in triumph, a love story that fearlessly explores the bond between a father and son and what it means to lead a life without limits.”
Russell Banks
“A book that may well be read for generations. It’s a book that fathers should give to their sons, but sons should give it to their fathers, too . . . mothers, wives, sisters and daughters: read it and weep for all the boys and men you have ever loved.”
Pulitzer Prize–winner Lucinda Franks
“Extraordinary—an adventure story with a rich psychological foundation from an enormously talented author. Crazy for the Storm is a powerful book. It deserves to be a bestseller.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061766725
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/02/2009
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

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What People are saying about this

Russell Banks
"This is a heart-stopping story beautifully told, an 11-year-old boy's story that deals with profound and challenging moral and philosophical issues. When does the quest for ecstasy become a danger-junkie's kick? How does a good boy become a good man? How do you raise a child in a busted-up family? Norman Ollestad has written a book that may well be read for generations. It's a book that fathers should give to their sons, but sons should give it to their fathers, too. And mothers, wives, sisters and daughters -- read it and weep for all the boys and men you have ever loved."
Jim Harrison
"CRAZY FOR THE STORM is an absolutely compelling book which I read in one long sitting. The fact that it's true made me shudder, but then Norman Ollestad is a fine writer and every detail is convincing."
Carolyn See
"As much a thriller as a memoir . . . gorgeously written, perfectly controlled."--(Carolyn See, author of Making a Literary Life)
Lucinda Franks
"Extraordinary-an adventure story with a rich psychological foundation from an enormously talented author. Crazy for the Storm is a powerful book. It deserves to be a bestseller."--(Pulitzer Prize-winner Lucinda Franks, author of My Father's Secret War)
Susan Cheever
"I could not stop reading this thrilling memoir. Why do we sometimes feel most alive when we are risking our lives? Ollestad answers this question with a heart-stopping adventure that ends in tragedy and in triumph, a love story that fearlessly explores the bond between a father and son and what it means to lead a life without limits."

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Meet the Author

Norman Ollestad studied creative writing at UCLA and attended UCLA Film School. He grew up on Topanga Beach in Malibu and now lives in Venice, California. He is the father of a nine-year-old son.

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Crazy for the Storm 3.8 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 59 reviews.
PrudeDude More than 1 year ago
The story is interesting. The writing is fine. Unfortunately, I still wouldn't recommend this book to any of my friends or family. Call me a prude or whatever, but I would not have bought the book had I known about the sex and frequent use of the F word. I understand that the author was painting a picture of the lifestyle he grew up with, but I believe he could have accomplished that without the explicit crudeness. I read all 28 reviews before downloading the e-book to my nook. I now realize some reviews probably contained veiled references to the adult-themed content, but I'm new to this and didn't see through them (i.e., the person who said they stopped reading because they didn't care for "his writing style"). I wish books had content advisories like those for movies and music. This would be especially helpful for buying e-books, since you can't flip through the pages like you would when buying a hard copy at the bookstore. I suppose a lot of people don't consider sex and language a negative issue -- but for those who do, consider yourself advised.
Eric_J_Guignard More than 1 year ago
Compelling story and well written. Two plots of the author's life - one is the relationship with his father and growing up in Malibu and the other is him as the sole survivor in a small plane crash. Each chapter goes back and forth and soon you understand how they are related, as the strength and lessons his father taught him helped Ollestad to survive. It is a quick read and positive affirmation. Enjoyed it.
BostonJS More than 1 year ago
Incredible book. Fast read. I grew up in the 60-70's and really appreciate the work ethic, freedom, and toughness that people had back then. Today with all of the safety regulations, warning labels, and scary news stories, people are encouraged to be afraid of everything and our kids have become soft. They would never have survived through Norm Ollestad's experiences. I would love for my sheltered, Nintendo-playing ten year old son to read this book, but some references are for adults only so he will have to wait until his teenage years to read this. This would be an excellent Father's Day book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very good book!!! It was so sad but also very funny at times. I enjoyed the chapters when they were in Mexico. I also thought it was neat to learn of how people acted in the 70's
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RChittenden More than 1 year ago
This is an adolescent coming of age memoir about survival and the fierce bond between a father and son.  Several pages in I was thinking it was a two star book but by the midpoint I was up to five stars.  Truly a wonderful book of love, perseverance, and the journey to adulthood.
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Wow. Just because something cool happened to someone doesnt mean theyre awesome writers . This book SUCKED!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not "my kind of folks", but this is a heart-felt and well written true family story. I'm glad to have read it.
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Rusty Voils More than 1 year ago
Definitely a good read. He does jump around a little bit with dates and times. I could see how that might be hard for some too follow but it is a good book and i would recommend it.
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