Summary: A tale of small-town America, the timeless love of families, & the unforgettable adventures of boyhood friends written by the New York Times bestselling author of ROCKET BOYS.
Edition/Copyright: 00 Cover: Paperback Publisher: Island Books Published: 09/04/2001 International: No
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Homer Hickam is the author of the number one New York Times bestseller Rocket Boys: A Memoir, which received a National Book Critics Circle nomination and was the basis for the critically acclaimed movie October Sky. The author of Back to the Moon and Torpedo Junction, as well as numerous articles for such publications as Smithsonian Air and Space and American History Illustrated, he is a retired NASA engineer, a scuba instructor, and a consultant on a variety of aerospace projects that interest him. He lives with his wife in Huntsville, Alabama -- Rocket City, USA
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Song of the Cape Of all the lessons I learned when I built my rockets, the most important were not about chemistry, physics, or metallurgy, but of virtues, sins, and other true things that shape us as surely as rivers carve valleys, or rain melts mountains, or currents push apart the sea. I would learn these lessons at a time when Coalwood, the mining town where I had lived my entire life, was just beginning to fade away. Yet, as the fall of 1959 began, and the leaves on the trees in the forests that surrounded us began to explode in spectacular color, Coalwood's men still walked with a trudging grace to and from the vast, deep mine, and its women bustled in and out of the company stores and fought the coal dust that drifted into their homes. In the dark old schools, the children learned and the teachers taught, and, in snowy white churches built on hillside cuts, the preachers preached, and God, who we had no doubt was also a West Virginian, was surely doing His work in heaven, too. At the abandoned slack dump we called Cape Coalwood, rockets still leapt into the air, and boyish voices yet echoed between ancient, worn mountains beneath a pale and watchful sky. Coalwood endured as it always had, but a wheel was turning that would change nearly everything, and no one, not even my father, would be able to stop it. When that brittle parchment autumn turned into our deepest, whitest winter, this and many other lessons would be taught. Though they were hard and sometimes cruel things to learn, they were true, and true things, as the people of Coalwood saw fit to teach me, are always filled with a shining glory. To me, there was no better time to launch a rocket than in the fall, especially a West Virginia fall. There seemed to be a cool, dry energy in the air that filled us with a renewed sense of hope and optimism. I had always believed that our rockets were lifted as much by our dreams as by burning propellant, and as the lazy summer faded and a northerly wind swept down on us with its lively breath, anything seemed possible. It was also when the school year started and I always felt an excitement stir within me at the thought of learning new and wonderful things. Fall had other marvels, too. At the Cape, we were often treated to V-shaped flotillas of migrating Canadian geese, bound from the far north to places we had only read about or imagined. We always stopped our rocket preparations to gaze longingly at the great creatures as they winged their way high overhead, and to listen to their joyful honking that seemed to be calling us to join them. ''If only we could,'' Sherman said once to my comment. ''Even for just a moment, to look down on our mountains and see them the same as angels.'' Sherman always liked to remind us that we lived in a beautiful place and I guess we did, although sometimes it was easy to forget, especially since we'd never known anywhere else. Once, a rare snow goose, as purely white as moonbeams, landed on the old slack dump, perhaps fooled by the reflection from the slick surface of the coal tailings. We gathered around the great strutting bird, awed by the sight of her. Then I noticed that her wing tips were as black as the faces of Coalwood miners after a shift. O'Dell said the reason for the black tips was so the geese could see each other inside a white cloud. O'Dell knew a lot about animals so I believed his explanation, but it got me off to thinking. How did the snow geese decide what colors their feathers would be? Did they all get together up north somewhere a million years ago and take a vote? It was a mystery and the snow goose made no comment. She just looked annoyed. When she tired of us gawking at her, she flapped her wings and continued her journey, and I confess I was relieved. I knew the snow goose did not belong in Coalwood. Some people, especially my mother, said neither did I.
''A heartwarmer ... truly beautiful and haunting.'' People ''Irresistible ... as compelling and rousing as a NASA liftoff.'' The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ''Compelling ... riveting ... extremely satisfying reading.'' The Boston Globe ''[A] sparkling memoir.'' Chicago Sun-Times Also by Homer Hickam: October Sky The #1New York Timesbestselling first book in his crowd-pleasing memoirs ''A thoroughly charming memoir ... [An] eloquent evocation of a lost time and place.'' The New York Times Back to the Moon Torpedo Junction Available from Dell And look for Homer Hickam's new hardcover: Sky of Stone The third memoir in his bestselling trilogy Available in October 2001 from Delacorte Press From the Paperback edition.
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