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The Leisure Seeker: A Novel Kindle Edition

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Length: 290 pages
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this affecting road novel, an elderly married couple leave their Detroit home and take off in their camper for one last adventure together. Ella Robina has more health problems than a third world country, and her husband, John, is suffering from progressive dementia. Despite protests from their adult children and doctors, Ella and John hit the road and head west to Disneyland. By day, they stop off at cheese-ball tourist attractions, and at night they relive old memories by watching slide shows of their previous family vacations. Along the way, they receive unexpected aid from a rueful goth teenager, outmaneuver some roadside predators, get stopped by the police and consider running for it, and have sex. The ultimate decision Ella makes might seem life affirming to some and a callous betrayal to others, but its impossible to deny that Ellas wise, feisty voice turns what could be a sappy melodrama into an authentic and funny love story. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Ella and John Robina, eightysomethings, take off in their Leisure Seeker RV against the will of their son, daughter, and doctors. Destination Disneyland, via Route 66. Ella has refused further treatment for cancer, and John’s Alzheimer’s is four years advanced. So they leave the Detroit suburbs and head west. Ella navigates and narrates their trip—and their lives—while John, who veers from sentience to senility and rage to tenderness, drives. Crumbling, kitschy Route 66 triggers Ella’s thoughts. This is a purely character-driven novel, and Ella is a remarkable creation: she’s honest, tough, strong, funny, usually in pain, cranky, and frightened. Her narration is matter-of-fact, but laced with snarky one-liners. Having braved Chicago’s chaotic Dan Ryan Expressway, she comforts readers: “Between the two of us, we are one whole person.” John is a distressingly realistic portrait of a person with Alzheimer’s; Ella never knows when he’ll have a moment of lucidity or fly into a dangerous rage. Her middle-aged children’s panicked demands that the couple return home will resonate with any adult who has feared for a parent’s well-being. Zadoorian, whose debut novel, Second Hand (2000), was widely praised, has surpassed his initial success. The Leisure Seeker is pretty much like life itself: joyous, painful, funny, moving, tragic, mysterious, and not to be missed. --Thomas Gaughan

Product Details

  • File Size: 262 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0061671789
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (January 21, 2009)
  • Publication Date: October 6, 2009
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001QB9FDA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,162 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author


Michael Zadoorian was born in Detroit, Michigan and has lived in the area for his entire life. His father was a photographer for The Detroit Edison Company for 35 years, photographing nuclear power plants, parades, "All Electric Kitchens," corporate bigwigs and victims of electrocution. His mother was a homemaker. He attended the public schools in Detroit, then went on to graduate from Wayne State University with a Liberal Arts degree. In the mid eighties, he discovered the work of Raymond Carver, which inspired him to start writing fiction.

During this time, he continued to work his day job writing advertising copy for used car dealers, luncheon meats, banks and pizza chains, but kept working on his stories. Though it took a while to shake off the influence of Carver, he soon started to develop his own voice and a style that reflected his own sensibilities. More and more, he found himself writing about his hometown of Detroit and the people he knew there. Before long, his work started to appear in various literary magazines and journals including The North American Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, The Literary Review, American Short Fiction, and the European journals Panurge and Paris Transcontinental.

Michael Zadoorian's first novel, Second Hand (W.W. Norton), about a Detroit-area junk store owner was released in 2000. The New York Times Book Review wrote Second Hand "may be a gift from the (Tiki) gods" and called it "a romantic adventure that explores what Yeats called 'the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.'" Second Hand was selected for Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers Program and as an American Booksellers Association "Book Sense" pick; it also received the Great Lakes Colleges Association prestigious New Writers Award. Recently translated into Italian and French, it continues to be a cult favorite, still popping up on blogs and "favorite book" lists.

Zadoorian's second and most recent novel The Leisure Seeker has already garnered rave reviews from all over the world. In a starred review, Booklist wrote "The Leisure Seeker is pretty much like life itself: joyous, painful, moving, tragic, mysterious, and not to be missed." The L.A. Times said: Zadoorian is true to these geezers. He draws them in their most honest light. I hoped for a book that would make me laugh during these tight times, and I was rewarded." And the Sydney Morning Herald stated: "This is a sad, sweet love letter to a fading America, elevated beyond its simple premise by its sharp humour about aging and a quietly shocking's hard to think of a more purely likeable novel in recent times."

His short story collection The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit (Wayne State University Press) follows characters coming to terms with the past and the present in a broken city. "These are stories that grab you, shake you and slap you upside the head...working toward perfection in short-story form." (Lansing State Journal)

Zadoorian still works as a copywriter in the Detroit area. He has also worked as a journalist, a magazine feature writer, a voice over talent, a shipping room clerk, and a plant guard for Chrysler. He lives with his wife in an old house filled with things that used to be in the houses of other people.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Jay Friedkin on March 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What a weird and wonderful book.
First of all, Zadoorian, although his name is Michael, must be a very wise,
old woman. As you can see from the book description, this is the story of
an old couple who escape all of the preconceptions of how they should live
their short, remaining time on this earth. It is written in the voice of
Ella, who you just have to describe as spunky.
She has cancer and in spite of it (or actually because of it),
she decides that she and her husband John, who has alzheimer's, will,
against the recommendations/advice/admonishments/threats and pleas of
their children and doctors, take their beloved Leisure Seeker RV on the
road one last time to retrace a previous journey over what is left of
Route 66.
So it's a road trip for octogenarians.
Which means all of the associated dramas and circumstances of aging
(humorous and sad) come along for the ride.

And that's why I say that Michael Zadoorian must be a wise old lady.
Writing in the voice of Ella, he gives us all of the wisdom, the humorous
and bittersweet insights of people who have lived a full life and now,
facing death, take the time to contemplate that life and savor it as it is
coming to an end.

But be aware, this is not some depressing book filled with nothing but
complaints about aging and sadness about the good old days being gone.
It is funny, bittersweet, tense and hysterical. Things happen! This
is a story that moves along and, like any good book, you keep wanting
to get back to it to see what will happen next. Very importantly,
there are no false dramas used to move things along. There are no
trumped up dark family secrets so often used to create fake tension.
Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. T. Guzman on February 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
Just because a book is not of great literary merit or is a quick and entertaining read does not mean that it lacks depth or does not win my round of applause. Michael Zadoorian was able to strike a certain deep chord within my soul with his bittersweet story of Ella and John Rowina, an elderly couple in decline. Ella has incurable cancer, and John has dementia. Together they agree, if John is indeed capable of making any decision, to leave Detroit, against the wishes of their two grown children, to take a road trip in their Leisure Seeker to Disneyland. Does this sound silly? It's anything but that.

Theirs is a story of love, fear, determination, and joy. They travel southwest together at a leisurely pace, all the while reminiscing about the past, perhaps in an effort to avoid thinking about the future. Declining mental and physical health is no picnic after all. The Rowinas' story had me laughing on one page, crying the next, and running away quickly on yet other pages to quickly copy down some notable quotes.

What this author does is hit the right notes. He tells the poignant story of aging with its accompanying physical and mental decline. For a long time in our own lives, aging is a process involving others. Eventually, however, we will all see this on our own horizon. As a result, this book may be less interesting to a younger person, but for someone nearing or in his golden years as I am, this book so totally expresses our feelings.

I admit that some of this novel's scenes tended to get a bit repetitive towards the end as the elderly couple moved from one city to another. By that time, however, that issue didn't bother me at all as I had already grown to love this feisty pair. So much so, in fact, that it was extremely hard to say goodbye to them as I finished reading this touching novel.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By NaughtiLiterati VINE VOICE on October 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I had such a good time reading this book because it made me think about aging and what happens and how much it changes you - yet is something you cannot escape! The ultimate love story and full of laughter, tears and capers and explores what it means to take your life back even it is seeming to come to an end - gripping and heartbreaking, yet wonderful!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lloyd Russell - The Book Sage on December 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Leisure Seeker, by Michael Zadoorian, is an excellent book. It was written in 2009, and I only read it because it is the December selection for the Los Gatos Library Book Club (which I'm only attending because Books, Inc. doesn't have a 4th Tuesday Book Club meeting this month). I had certainly never heard of the book or the author prior to this. Kudos to Melissa Maglio for picking it.

The story line is easy to articulate. It's about a couple, married nearly 60 years and in their early 80's, who decide to take a road trip. Actually, the wife, Ella, decides. Her husband, John, has a fairly advanced form of dementia and spends only a small part of the time lucid. Ella, herself, has cancer and has refused chemo and radiation treatments, despite the entreaties of their 57-year old daughter, their 49-year old son, and her doctor.

This is no ordinary road trip. They are driving from their home outside Detroit all the way to Disneyland, CA (not Disney World, FLA) on the old Route 66. As hard as it is for Ella to travel with John, his driving is fine. Ella has decided that nobody is going to tell her whether she can do this or not. In fact, they basically leave clandestinely so that she doesn't have to deal with her kids.

You can see that it's an interesting story. But there's so much more to it than that. Ella is so cool. The voice that Kadoorian gives her is the voice that I want to have when I reach that age. She's not anybody's doddering old woman. She swears, she packs heat, and, yet, waxes philosophical. She is an amazing character. Here are a few examples of what she says:

"This is why RV's are the cat's ass." (they've had the same RV for 30 years)

"Anyone who never met a man he didn't like just isn't trying hard enough.
Read more ›
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