Williwaw (Gore Vidal) - Panther Books Ltd. - 1965 - 191 pages

This first novel by Gore Vidal was written during World War II in 1944 when Vidal was 19 years old.  Vidal was serving as a warrant officer on a Dutch Harbor patrol boat in the Aleutian Islands.  The story is not about combat.  A "williwaw" is a sudden, hurricane-like storm that lasts for a short period (two days in the book) along the northern Pacific coast of Alaska.  The small patrol vessel is surprised by a williwaw during a two-day trip from Dutch Harbor to Arunga.  Although Vidal later explained that the story is complete fiction and that he never encountered a williwaw, his description of events puts the reader right in the middle of the storm.  The secondary story here is about one of the sad love triangles that occurred numerous times between members of the military and one woman during wartime.  Considering the shortage of available women in any port during WWII, these scenes must have played over and over again.  In this short novel, Vidal effectively develops the characters of many men he probably met during that time.  This first published effort fore-shadowed the works of Vidal who became one of the greatest American writers. [JAM 5/22/2019]

"Williwaw is well told, the picture of man and events is vividly engrossing." [Eleanor Roosevelt - New York World Telegram 1947]