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Most daddy memoirs are predictable: Dad and son are close, dad and son grow apart, son gets old, accepts dad for what he is, dad dies. Norman Ollestad’s Crazy for the Storm works in reverse, starting with the details of the Cessna plane crash that killed Ollestad’s father, his father’s girlfriend, and the pilot, and stranded the author, then an 11-year-old snow-skiing prodigy, at 8,200 feet in the San Gabriel Mountains. With his story framed, Ollestad dives into his parents’ strange separation and his father’s obsession with adventuring. He writes without pride or smugness about his Mozart-like transition from neglected beach baby to world-class child-athlete while also admitting that his father’s adrenaline obsession made the young Ollestad “stiff with fear” that his father would prioritize his own adventures over his son’s safety in places like the jungles of Central Mexico. The unsurprising yet riveting turn in Crazy for the Storm is that the lessons his father taught him would save Ollestad’s life on that mountain.
OLLESTAD SPEAKS THURSDAY AT 7 P.M. AT BORDERS, 5871 CROSSROADS CENTER WAY, Falls church. FREE. (703) 998-0404.