Down Around Midnight: A Memoir of Crash and Survival

Down Around Midnight: A Memoir of Crash and Survival

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by Robert Sabbag
     
 

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A bestselling author tells the terrifying and inspiring story of the plane crash he survived

Around midnight on June 17, 1979, Air New England flight 248 crashed into the woods on Cape Cod. The pilot died but the copilot and eight passengers survived with trauma both physical and emotional. Robert Sabbag, at the height of his fame for his bestselling book

Overview

A bestselling author tells the terrifying and inspiring story of the plane crash he survived

Around midnight on June 17, 1979, Air New England flight 248 crashed into the woods on Cape Cod. The pilot died but the copilot and eight passengers survived with trauma both physical and emotional. Robert Sabbag, at the height of his fame for his bestselling book Snowblind, was among them.

Down Around Midnight is Sabbag's gripping account of what exactly happened on that foggy night and his candid attempt to come to terms with the emotional ramifications of the crash. He reconnects with the other survivors and their rescuers for the first time in thirty years, weaving the narrative between past and present to create a thrilling and affecting story of survival and recovery.

Like the best survivor tales-Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air and Joe Simpson's Touching the Void-Down Around Midnight is fast paced and mesmerizing. It is also a meditation on healing and the things we do to compartmentalize traumatic memories. Few people experience a plane crash and live to tell the story. Sabbag brings his striking, economical style to this personal tale of learning how to remember and how to endure.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Sabbag (Snowblind) was one of eight passengers on board Air New England flight 248 when it crashed into the woods of Cape Cod on June 17, 1979. The passengers and co-pilot survived, and after a brief hospitalization, Sabbag was back on a plane less than two months later. "There was never really any question of my not flying again," Sabbag writes. "Travel had always been a significant part of my life, and it was a substantial part of my work now. " When Sabbag finally decides to discard his don't-look-back mindset and examine the crash nearly 30 years later, the result is a compelling mix of reporting and memoir. He uncovers how his plane went down and wrestles with whether or not to call the pilot's widow. He interviews some of the passengers and workers from the crash scene, figuring out how they persevered, while discovering how he did the same. Sabbag deftly maneuvers himself in and out of the narrative, so the book isn't about his life as much as it is an insightful breakdown of the emotions, coincidences and facts behind a catastrophic event. Perhaps the biggest insight of Sabbag's book-which packs an emotional wallop, despite the book's slim size-is that despite his dogged reporting, we discover that there are some life events we can't understand completely, even our own. (June)

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Boston Globe
Sabbag examines the crash both as an outstanding reporter investigating an old story, talking to those involved and meticulously piecing together the evidence, and also as a survivor confronting his own demons and the inevitable vagaries of memory... A compelling and tightly written reconstruction of the crash and his struggle to come to terms with the near-death experience.
Time
Sabbag has a knack for thumbnail portraits and sardonic humor... eloquent...
Booklist
His most emotionally resonant book... A remarkably powerful, human story not merely of a plane crash but of the impact that one brief moment can have on an entire life...
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Wonderfully readable... Sabbag has a journalist's eye for detail and a sardonic style that would be entertaining no matter the topic... The conclusions he comes to are thought-provoking and wise.
Kirkus Reviews
A plane-crash survivor meanderingly dissects the scattered details of the disaster. "Time never had a chance to stand still," writes Rolling Stone contributor Sabbag (Loaded: A Misadventure on the Marijuana Trail, 2002, etc.) of that night in June 1979. The author-then 32 and enjoying the success of his first book, Snowblind-was one of eight passengers aboard the doomed Air New England flight to Cape Cod. Just minutes into their initial descent, the airplane malfunctioned and began to dive at 1,500 feet per minute, "breaking out of the cloud cover about two seconds from contact." Sabbag suffered a broken back but was able to join forces with Suzanne, another survivor. Both managed to evacuate the remaining passengers in near darkness, and Suzanne fearlessly ventured into the woods to bring a rescue team to the crash site a few hours later. Fast-forward nearly three decades later. Sabbag called Suzanne to compare notes on the crash and discovered that her "recovery had been swift" and that she had boarded another plane within weeks-yet her mother felt the heft of the tragedy for several years. This information amazed Sabbag, and the remainder of the book examines his post-traumatic blind spots and how he became numb to the psychological fallout of the accident. He insightfully remarks on an "acquired" fear of flying and the reunions with other passengers ("heirs to a common destiny") and his distant yet concerned ex-wife. His "inerasable" crash-site memories haunt him still, and readers will get the sense that Sabbag never achieved the sense of closure he may have been seeking with this book. A sobering, protracted deconstruction of tragic events and circumstances.
From the Publisher
"Sabbag examines the crash both as an outstanding reporter investigating an old story, talking to those involved and meticulously piecing together the evidence, and also as a survivor confronting his own demons and the inevitable vagaries of memory... A compelling and tightly written reconstruction of the crash and his struggle to come to terms with the near-death experience."
-Boston Globe

"Sabbag has a knack for thumbnail portraits and sardonic humor... eloquent..."
-Time

"His most emotionally resonant book... A remarkably powerful, human story not merely of a plane crash but of the impact that one brief moment can have on an entire life... "
-Booklist

"Wonderfully readable... Sabbag has a journalist's eye for detail and a sardonic style that would be entertaining no matter the topic... The conclusions he comes to are thought-provoking and wise."
-Minneapolis Star Tribune

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670021024
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/11/2009
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 5.84(h) x 0.83(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Sabbag examines the crash both as an outstanding reporter investigating an old story, talking to those involved and meticulously piecing together the evidence, and also as a survivor confronting his own demons and the inevitable vagaries of memory... A compelling and tightly written reconstruction of the crash and his struggle to come to terms with the near-death experience."
-Boston Globe

"Sabbag has a knack for thumbnail portraits and sardonic humor... eloquent..."
-Time

"His most emotionally resonant book... A remarkably powerful, human story not merely of a plane crash but of the impact that one brief moment can have on an entire life... "
-Booklist

"Wonderfully readable... Sabbag has a journalist's eye for detail and a sardonic style that would be entertaining no matter the topic... The conclusions he comes to are thought-provoking and wise."
-Minneapolis Star Tribune

Meet the Author

Robert Sabbag is the author of Snowblind, Smokescreen, and Too Tough to Die. He is a regular contributor to Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, and other publications. He lives on Cape Cod.

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Down Around Midnight: A Memoir of Crash and Survival 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is, at once, a terrific 'adventure' story reading almost like fiction; and at the same time, it is sufficiently self-revealing as to be autobiographical. Sabbag injects good humor, and his own brand of 'optimism', which lifts the account of this tragic event to inspiration. He weaves an absorbing tale, deftly connecting a series of random connections among fellow passengers/survivors, their rescuers, and caregivers, and shared experiences. It's nicely paced and extremely entertaining...great summer reading.