Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Book Review: The Off Season
2 Stars - Recommended Lightly - It all just falls apart, like, the book practically disintegrated right there in my hands
Publisher: Resurrection House/Underland Press
Published: July 2015
December was a tough reading month for me. All three of the books I started in late November failed to captivate me and dragged ass through most of this month. I ended up DNFing two of them, which upset me greatly. Deciding to chuck a book aside, no matter how much or little time I've invested into it, is never easy. So why did I chose to stick it out with Cady's The Off Season when it, too, wasn't exactly doing it for me? Of the three, the writing was less dense, I suppose. And Cady's style was just more inviting.
The premise was pretty cool too. Point Vestal, a town in which time acts differently. Where ghosts, easily identified by their incessant flickering and 19th century clothing, 'live' among the townsfolk and tourists. Some hold old jobs. Others are destined to repeat their brutal deaths week after week, month after month, year after year. And yet others appear and disappear with each time jump. (oh yes, the people of Point Vestal can find themselves unexpectedly walking through different time periods, seemingly at random.) But time jumping aside, it's a sleepy little place where nothing much seems to happen. Until a defrocked priest and his cat sidekick hitch a ride into town with 'ole August Starling, and take pity on his lost soul. With a simple whispered prayer, asking God to release August from his repetitive ghostly cycle, Joel-Andrew unwittingly unleashes a horrible evil and finds himself smack in the middle of a war between the living and the dead.
The book itself is actually being written as we read it, by a group of townspeople who have decided to share the "true" history of the town. The story, much like the town itself, jumps around in time and follows a sometimes dizzyingly non-linear path. We know something bad has happened. We know our narrators were part witness to, and partly played a role in, whatever it was that went down. And we just need to be patient as they work together to tell us all about it.
However, patience wasn't something I was willing to give. Cady really worked my nerves with this one. The book ebbed and flowed awkwardly. His writing was inconsistent and confusing at best. And at its worst? It felt like he didn't even know what he was trying to say. Some of the time, I found myself only capable of reading 5 pages at a time before putting it down out of boredom or frustration. On other, more rare occasions, I managed to get through a good thirty or so pages before I had the urge to drop it.
And those last forty pages or so - I'm looking at you,Chapters 30 through 33. They were basically one giant jerk-off. Cady worked himself into one hell of a tizzy with all that slow tease bullshit that he just couldn't contain himself there at the end. When all the tension between the townspeople and the newly 'freed' August Starling was finally brought to a head, it was absolute chaos. All the moving parts came together so hard and so fast, I felt like I was totally forgotten in the melee. The climax was all about Cady. And what Cady wanted. Fuck his readers. He shot his load all over those final chapters like no body's business. And I felt... gypped. And even more frustrated than I had been before. Sure, he tried to redeem himself in that final chapter, slowing things back down, rubbing our backs and 'there there'-ing us. But I was checked out at that point. It was too little, too late, I appreciate the gesture but....
And it would appear I am not the only one who felt Cady missed some opportunities, judging by the reviews on Goodreads. I don't know. I guess I'm glad I was able to break that horrible. month-long spell of not finishing anything, but god damn, did it have to be with a book that turned out to be such a disappointment?
Here's to hoping that the next spine I crack open is more... sensitive to my needs.