Daniel Fights a Hurricane
A Novel by Shane Jones
2012 / 211 Pages
Shane Jones’s 2012 novel Daniel Fights a Hurricane is a bizarrely fascinating portrait of one man’s mental journey through a hurricane. In Daniel’s mind, a massive earth-shattering hurricane is about to strike, and he must fight the forces of nature if he and his “friends” are to survive. The problem is that the hurricane (which is made of wild, unruly children) as well as Daniel’s friends, are all in his head.
At the same time, Daniel’s ex-wife, Karen, is desperately trying to find Daniel in order to save him from himself. Weeks earlier, Daniel disappeared into the woods prepared to confront the impending hurricane, and Karen is worried that his mental state is rapidly deteriorating. Told from alternating perspectives between Daniel and Karen, this novel is a fantastical and imaginative portrait of mental illness and how it affects our loved ones.
We all have our own version of Daniel’s hurricane – a lurking fear of something we cannot possibly predict or control, such as death, illness, or natural disasters. As Daniel says,
“I have a moment that everyone has, and that moment is wondering if I’m crazy or not. The answer is no. I’m simply going through something, and I need to get away and clear my head. I need to fix myself and it would help if I had my wife back, who has left me because she has had too many moments where she’s wondered if I’m crazy or not.”
But Daniel’s fear is out of control and has turned into an all-consuming alternate reality. He cannot allow himself to clear his head until he has confronted and lived through his worst fears. For readers, his mindset is like some sort of horrible and wonderful Seussian world where anything can (and does) happen. His mental journey may be seen as a cathartic, redemptive experience, but the realistic repercussions are just as devastating as a natural disaster. And it may be easy to deconstruct in retrospect, but when the winds and rain are pounding our hearts and minds, it’s hard to see a way out. Karen laments their passive attitude toward Daniel’s mental state, but unfortunately, the hurricane has already been set into motion, whether it’s real or not:
What we always said to each other: Everything will be okay. But we never really tried to fix anything. We just said, Everything will be okay.
With this novel, Shane Jones has tapped into a very controversial discussion on the way the human mind can intercept fear and mold it into something even more horrible than the reality. And what do we do when our minds betray us? Do we fight back – even if we are under prepared and ill-equipped to handle it? Or do we let the natural disaster of our mindset run its course? Shane Jones may not have an answer, but anyone who has ever suffered from extreme anxiety or depression will certainly find something empathetic and honest about Daniel. And it might scare the shit out of you.