Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book Review: The Changing Seasons by Paul L. Madden

A few months ago Michael Offutt wrote a review of my book Virgin Territory and called it depressing.  Well, The Changing Seasons ups the ante on depressing by a factor of ten.  Basically over four seasons the main character's life is completely destroyed.

The first chapter is kind of a James Joyce-ian chronicle of a typical day in the life of Floyd Jensen.  It's really not a very interesting life as we see.  Floyd goes from his apartment to the mail room of the local chemical conglomerate, where he spends his day mindlessly shuffling around the building to put envelopes in people's inboxes.  Then he goes to school at the local university, where he's working on a degree in Literature that even he knows is worthless.

The next day then gets off to a terrible start.  Floyd's doctor's appointment runs late, which prompts him to drive like a maniac to school to get there in time for an exam.  Except of course he gets a speeding ticket, putting him even further behind.  So when he finally gets to school he's running at full speed--right into a young woman.  That's where his day--and his life--take a turn for the better.

The young woman is named Abby and despite that Floyd runs into her like a linebacker and hurts her ankle, she wants to see him again.  So begins a very awkward courtship.  Floyd and Abby are both shy and pretty clueless about dating.  Plus they're both hiding a dark secret.

Despite finding perhaps true love, Floyd still has a lot of other problems in his life.  His irresponsible brother Todd is getting married to an unpleasant girl named Angela, who is also carrying Todd's child.  Floyd's father suffered a stroke about a year ago and his health is declining rapidly.  And it turns out Abby's mother--an executive at the company where Floyd works--hates Floyd, seeing him as not good enough for her daughter.

From there things really begin to unravel for poor Floyd.  It gets to the point where he contemplates suicide, but can't quite bring himself to do it.  So yeah it gets pretty dark.  It's definitely not something you want to read on the beach.

A couple of other little nitpicks.  I couldn't help thinking Floyd is kind of a dick.  Throughout the book he's constantly looking down on his older brother, as if his life is so much better.  Come on dude, wake up and smell the coffee already!  Abby is a little too perfect; I kind of doubted a girl like her could exist in real life.  If she did, I'd love to get her phone number!  And in terms of writing it really uses "and" too much.  Every other sentence seems like "this and that" AND so forth.  See what I'm doing there?  It gets a little annoying if you notice it.

Still it's a good coming of age story, especially if you're in the mood for something a little darker.

That is all.

Phony Photos return on Monday...hooray?.


  1. Pat, this sounds like an interesting book. The characters are too perfect but work.

  2. I can't decide if this is a good endorsement of this book or not.

  3. You could always lighten the mood sometimes - just to keep the reader from drowning in alcohol or . .

    I don't mind a dark, depressing character; but I do need things to start working out (or see some kind of change) after the first couple chapters. He can start off elevated; but still needs redeeming qualities that I can relate to. Eventually.

    In other news: you won a book mark for Justine Dells guest post at my blog the other day. I can't access your e-mail (highly technical stuff involving a pop server I don't have that is probably only a couple clicks from being installed) so I'm leaving you Justine's e-mail so you can claim your prize.

    Congratulations Grumpy :)




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