It is currently 9:30 in the morning when I write this, and, I couldn't sleep all night, so I finished this book. Slept a lot during the day yesterday and drank a lot of coffee with two packets of sugar. Long nights are common for me, but I'm thrilled that I managed to finish the last 180 pages in a single night! I have no regrets.
This book starts with a long night, and they just don't let up. Paul is working at a nuclear reactor in Idaho, a prototype that the military trained him for. Of course shift-work is part of the job, he often works overnight, in the mornings, and in the afternoons. He works around the clock just to support his family. The people he works for are assholes, he has to catch a bus to and from work 50 miles away, and on top of it all, just as he gets some big news, the army ships him out to Greenland to work on a new reactor.
'Because there was no dirt on the ice cap, they dumped all the waste onto a section of ice they called "the Shitberg." He claimed that in one hundred years or so the Shitberg would detach from it's glacier and land in Scandinavia like a grotesque tall ship from the days of the explorers.'
The climax was not great. I generally love these kinds of books, slices of life mixed with a lot of struggle. The longest night, as the title implies, isn't totally extraordinary... I was hoping for a life threatening heroic feat from Esrom, who is a firefighter. I was hoping that I would cry at the end, but I didn't.
"The glitch, the design flaw that would be improved upon in later reactors based on this one, was that while the number nine was the emergency brake for the whole reactor, there was no emergency brake for the number nine. . . . It could make the reactor go supercritical, reaching two thousand degrees in less than a second."