Against the Wind is an elegantly written story of relationships involving six principal characters, strands of whose lives braid together after a chance reunion among three of them. A successful environmental lawyer is forced to take himself to task when he realizes that everything about his work has betrayed his core beliefs. A high school English teacher asks her former high school love to take up her environmental cause. A transgender adolescent male raised by his grandparents struggles to excel in a world hostile to his kind. A French-Canadian political science professor finds himself left with a choice between his cherished separatist cause and his marriage and family. An accomplished engineer is chronically unable to impress his more accomplished father sufficiently to be named head of the international wind technology company his father founded. The Quebec separatist party’s Minister of Natural Resources, a divorcée, finds herself caught between her French-Canadian lover and an unexpected English-Canadian suitor.
|Publisher:||Red Hen Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.00(d)|
About the Author
Against the Wind is Jim Tilley’s debut novel. He has published three full-length collections of poetry and a short memoir, The Elegant Solution. His writing has appeared in top literary journals, including Ploughshares , Virginia Quarterly Review , Alaska Quarterly Review and Southern Review. In 2008 he won Sycamore Review's Wabash Prize for Poetry. Jim earned a doctorate in physics from Harvard University. During his twenty-five-year career in insurance and investment banking, he wrote several prize-winning papers on finance and investments. He has recently published original mathematics research in various academic journals. He resides in Bedford Corners, New York.
Read an Excerpt
The details are not unusual. He collapsed during the meeting; the paramedics arrived. They carried him on a stretcher down the freight elevator and gave him some nitroglycerin. Making it to the hospital on time without getting stuck in New York City trafficthat was a bit unusual. It turned out to be a minor heart attack. He stayed in the hospital less than a week, recovering from a routine procedure to install stents in two obstructed arteries. It was the longest he’d ever spent confined to a room.
It gave him time to think. That part is also unusual. Ralph had led a hard-charging life that had given him little time to think about anything other than work. Time he’d chosen not to take because he knew the answers to his important questions were not what he wanted to tell himself. It was easier to focus on the court cases at hand. The notion of a bucket list had never entered Ralph’s mind until the episode with his heart. But lying in bed all day with only the occasional stroll down over-lit hallways, he imagined the upcoming canoe trip, a reunion of old camp friends. They’d been hard to find after more than forty-five years, and sadly, harder to convince.
The past three months brought another reunion, this one by chance, althoughreflecting on it in the hospitalRalph suspected it was bound to have happened with three one-time grade-school friends coming together again: he and Lynn, high school sweethearts; he and Dieter, high school rivals, and Dieter the loser in the battle for Lynn’s affections. All thrown together in a fight over wind farms in the county where Lynn now lived.
All in all, the unfinished business of past lives was brought forward and played out, offering opportunities to put things right.
The bed has been turned down, but the curtains aren’t drawn. As Ralph rummages through the minibar, she turns off the lights and stands at the window, gazing down at the lit tree, most of its leaves yellow, some green, all about to become the past, but still holding on. Beyond the tree, out on the promenade, the inlaid stone compass on which they stood not more than five minutes before. Southeast to where he lives, west to her house. One hundred thirty-five degrees of separation. She looks south across the lake. Red lights blinking in unison along the horizonwind turbines on Wolfe Island warning aircraft to stay clear. If you must fly low, don’t do it here.
Ralph is flying high. He joins her at the window, a glass of wine in each hand. “To us,” he says. “Better the second time around.” Not the second time, she thinks. Though they’d come close, they’d never made love as teenagers. She takes a sip of wine and puts her glass on the nightstand, then draws the curtains closed. Ralph puts his glass beside hers. He unbuttons her blouse and unhooks her bra. “My God, you’re beautiful.” He takes off his shirt, undoes his belt and lets his pants fall around his ankles. She eases herself out of her skirt.
“This is as far as we got on prom night,” she says as he sweeps away the covers with one hand and pushes her onto the bed with the other.
“Almost,” she says.
She awakes at eight thirty, Ralph still asleep, rolls out of bed, goes straight to the window, and opens the curtains, only to be blinded by the sun scintillating off a shimmering Lake Ontario. Shielding her eyes, she peers out to Fort Henry on the hill. Sees the Martello tower on the spit of land at the tip of the Royal Military College campus. Stares across the lake to the wind turbines strung out like beads on a giant string along the expanse of the island, their blades turning slowly, the red beacons no longer discernible. Once around every three to four seconds, a slow spin in seeming defiance of the stiff breeze. Petals on giant white stalks, reacting to the impulse of nature, snatching a fraction of the wind passing through. Mesmerizing, those blades rotating gently on the horizon, reflecting the morning sun. Adjacent pairs sometimes in unison, strange harmony, as if they are bound to each other, dancing to the same music.