Author: Richard Meiber

ISBN: 9780982073285

At 50, Clement Scheutz has done it all; raised two successful sons in rural New Hampshire, been married and divorced, and now he's wandering the Caribbean with his much younger girlfriend, Samantha.

You'd think such a carefree life would be everything a person could ask for, but after seven years he's learned it isn't true. There are dark clouds on the horizon. He and Samantha aren't getting along that well, and he is beginning to question the validity of the life he's chosen. He feels empty, homeless, and all sense of meaning seems to have disappeared from his existence.

Culebra, a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico, is well known as a sheltered "hurricane hole," but that's not why Clem and Samantha have brought Panacea, their 65 foot wooden schooner there. They've come because they need to nurse their meager supply of cash.

Make them flat broke.

Clement finds work - of a sort - at El Tapon, a small restaurant run by Migdala, thirty-something granddaughter of the owner, now in his 90's.

He's met her before, even danced with her during a party five years earlier. There's something in her face when she looks at him... Later, she makes him an offer; in return for his help in the kitchen, he can have the leftover food at the end of each day.

About this time, the dark clouds approaching Clem and Samantha arrive and she announces she's leaving. Just in time, too, because there's another storm on the way. Hurricane Hugo, a monster, strikes Culebra with 150 knot winds, devastating the harbor and driving ashore most of the boats hunkered down there, including Panacea. The wind also lifts El Tapon's roof and carries it away.

The building is all but destroyed. And when Migdala hires Clement to help rebuild he discovers that termites have eaten the wood framework from the inside out. The structure will need to be completely rebuilt.

This, and the need to restore Panacea, serve as metaphors for Clement's need to rethink his own life, and as the construction proceeds and his feelings for Migdala deepen, he endures, as does the reader, several bouts of deep self-examination.

Falling off the Wind is printed on bright white stock and the ink used to produce the text is overly shiny. When reading at night, I found myself continuously adjusting the angle in order to keep the glittering ink from interfering. In addition to this minor annoyance, the page numbering is less than professional: rather than Chapter One being on page one, the dedication is numbered page 4, and the story actually opens on page 7.

As a long-time sailor, I enjoyed the sailing scenes and found them accurate in every respect. More than that, in the denouement, after all the agonizing as Clement over-and-over examines himself, the way he arrived at his final decision turned out to be a big part of the enjoyment I took in this story.

This is a cerebral read, well crafted and enjoyable. Recommended if you're the kind of reader who can overlook a few gremlins in the text.

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