Andy Newmark is having the time of his life on Thunder Island, but the 1967 Summer of Love also brings with it some important lessons about growing up.
In this coming-of-age novel, set in the summer of 1967, 17-year-old Andy Newmark graduates from high school and lands a job at a run down beach club on the famous barrier island east of New York City. It’s the legendary summer of love in the USA with the Vietnam War ramping up in the background and on Thunder Island it’s all about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It is Andy’s first time living away from home with no one to answer to but the hard-drinking board members of the rattletrap club. The threat of the military draft hangs over Andy as makes his way into the adult world.
The reader is carried along by Andy’s sense of exploration as he works, makes friends, surfs, and experiments with drugs, alcohol and sex. All the while, the fear of not being accepted by a college and therefore being drafted to fight in Vietnam hovers over him. Gradually overcoming personal conflicts, his parents divorce, his fear of failure and the social ills he encounters, the war, the prejudice he experiences as a Jew, the decadence of Thunder Island, by summer’s end, Andy feels comfortable with himself and the dimensions of the adult world he is entering.
Andy and his friends are likable, even if they seem as deeply characterized as the people in the rock songs that play everywhere on Thunder Island. And, like many novels of initiation, this is a simple story of innocence and discovery. Thunder Island has charm.
Steeped in the news and social events of the time as they appeared to young adults then, Thunder Island offers a sentimental, nostalgic version of adolescence in the late 60s.
James Howard Kunstler says: ‘The story takes place at a Hamptons-like beach resort town in 1967. It’s about what happens to a New York City kid the summer after he graduates from high school, with the Vietnam War looming in the background. Surfing, drugs, young love.’
This was one of James Howard Kunstler’s early novels, published some time before he became better known as a social critic and author of the acclaimed non-fiction books The Geography of Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic.
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many novels including World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Thunder Island, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, An Embarrassment of Riches, and many others.
He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.
His non-fiction includes The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation.