|Exult in the Love of Hang Gliding|
Published: Thursday, 13 August 2009 23:04
The pursuit of hang gliding seems to connote to the human perception a whirlwind of thrill, adventure, adrenaline and the climax of exultance. The act of explaining to a grieving mother and family why flying is worth sacrificing one's life at her child's funeral, well, no can ever imagine. Author Joe Quirk, an Alameda resident, explores the meaning of life and death, passion for this "glorious act of flight" and what's it like to truly be alive in his newly released cliffhanger novel Exult.
Revolving around discovering an answer to one of the most quintessentially fundamental questions of existence, Exult follows the life of a man named Jack Ostruck whose love for hang gliding causes him to lose passion for everyday life. Jack's devotion to flight takes a turn for the worse as he makes a horrible mistake that kills one of his dear friends. Insisting that he attend his friend's funeral, the brokenhearted mother demands that Jack justify why flying is worth her child's death, giving him only 24 hours to find the answer to the seemingly impossible question, "Is a full life worth an early death?"
"My book follows ancient mythic formats. Icarus flew too high, lost his wings, and fell. Orpheus journeyed to the underworld to bring back his dead lover. Prometheus stole fire from the gods and brought it back for mortals.
"Beowulf killed Grendel, then had to face Grendel's mother. Jack the hang glider does all four, and he does it without magic or gods.
"Who says our secular world can't have its primal myth?" said Quirk.
Though Exult took Quirk many years to write and perfect, he found inspiration from different perspectives surrounding hang gliding.
He then formulated a variety of scenarios of how to explain the passion of flight to another human being, which then enabled him to transform his idea into a novel.
"Hang gliding puts you in an existential frame of mind, because every once in a while, somebody in the community crashes and dies. Every pilot seems to think the risk is worth it. 'But how would you explain it to somebody's mom?' I thought.
"Then I thought, 'What if you were forced to face a grieving mother and explain it to her?' That nugget turned into a book," said Quirk.
An Alameda resident for more than five years, Quirk has had a remarkable career as a writer and novelist.
His first novel, The Ultimate Rush, which follows the adventure of a rollerblading bike messenger, was a national bestseller, and Warner Brothers bought the film option.
In addition to his first successful book, Quirk wrote a humorous science book called It's Not You, It's Biology: The Science of Love, Sex & Relationships, which has been translated into 18 languages, as well as a science history book, Call To The Rescue: The Story of The Marine Mammal Center.
"I fell in love and remain in love with Alameda. My favorite restaurant is C'era Una Volta. I love the beach and the Bladium," said Quirk.
Though he has written a plethora of books and novels, Exult is by far his favorite piece of writing. He hopes that his message will translate to all readers who take the time to release themselves from reality into his literary world.
"I want to increase their compassion. I want them to live inside Jack's head and heart for 36 hours, and by sharing his experiences, learn the lessons he learns.
"I want readers to feel the way I felt when I wrote it," said Quirk.