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The Melting Season Paperback – Bargain Price, January 4, 2011

3.0 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, January 4, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From the author of The Kept Man comes an uneven road story about a woman fleeing from her past. Catherine Moonie Madison, 25, runs away from her stifling smalltown Nebraska life with a suitcase full of her husband's money, ending up in Las Vegas, where she finds a confidante and partner in crime in Valka, who, like her, is looking for escape. As the story progresses, Attenberg fills in Moonie's backstory via flashbacks; unfortunately, Moonie's hard-luck story is far less interesting than her adventures in Las Vegas. What resonates is her friendship with Valka, her dreamlike evening with a crew of hedonistic celebrity impersonators and her sometimes naïve observations on being outside of Nebraska for the first time. There's a promise of redemption as Moonie begins piecing together an unconventional life and stand-in family, but there's a certain deliberateness to the empowerment theme that makes it feel less than real. There are some nice moments, and Attenberg has a knack for poignant description, but the author seems distracted from the story she set out to tell. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Betrayed by her husband, young Nebraska farm wife Catherine Madison steals his nearly $200,000 in cash and heads west. Never mind that it’s the middle of winter, the roads are covered with snow, and she has no idea where to go. What could be worse than living with a broken-down marriage and a family of reprobates and drunks? She ends up in Las Vegas, where she becomes instant best friends with Valka, a beautiful older woman who’s had her own share of misfortune. (Valka’s significant other abandoned her after ovarian cancer and a hysterectomy.) Together the two engage in bad-girl behavior, drinking and partying until the wee hours. They hang out with a lively group of celebrity impersonators: Valka beds Paul McCartney, Catherine locks lips with Prince. Catherine tells Valka her life story, and the sorry details of her broken heart are slowly—too slowly—revealed. Although Attenberg’s singular focus on Catherine’s efforts at self-empowerment occasionally grow tiresome, she renders poignant prose and portrays the desperate behavior of her characters with verve. --Allison Block --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594484996
  • ASIN: B005K5SOYY
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,759,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. R. Schaap on January 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Melting Season gets off to an irresistible start when its heroine, Catherine "Moonie" Madison, steals a pile of money and hits the highway, leaving behind her small Nebraska town and very complicated family. In precise and arresting descriptions and lucid, lyrical prose, Jami Attenberg captures the landscapes and textures of the midwest and west, and both the liberation and vulnerability of being a woman on the open road. Moonie makes her way to Las Vegas where, amid the city's splendid artifice, she builds real friendships that lead her to confront the truth about herself and her past, and help her to forge a way forward. There are some dazzling and very funny Vegas set pieces and unforgettable characters, but what's most enduring and moving about The Melting Season is that underpinning the adventure and desert glitter is real contemplation--of the nature of love, friendship, and selfhood.
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Format: Hardcover
Jami Attenberg paints a rich lovely portrait of Catherine Madison, a woman running away from her past and finding answers to her life in a haunting new friendship. I picked up Attenberg's book and couldn't put it down. The writing is beautiful and the story will stay with you for a long time.
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Format: Hardcover
I had strong hopes for this book, but it completely fell flat. Moonie's character was supposed to register sympathy with the reader, however, her story doesn't have enough to it to make you feel that way. Attenberg throws in the "family secret" which is almost entirely unbelievable. Valka came on to the scene with flair and fizzled. None of the characters were developed enough, I had hope in Vegas, but then it all went downhill. Perhaps 188 pages weren't enough for this story.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a really outstanding book. I'm not a big fiction reader, so my thoughts may not count for much, but I was consistently riveted and entertained by Attenberg's story of journey and realization, most of all by her strong, concise prose style. Attenberg populated Moonie's thoughts with thoughtful observations while still noting that the character isn't used to trafficking in thoughtful observations. There's that annoyingly common compliment that a writer "really understands the mindset of the working-class life," usually turning its blue-collar heroes into prosaic, constantly profound mouthpieces for the author. Moonie Madison is played realistically...she doesn't over-analyze every strange new experience she sees, but gets to the center of what's happening with an enviable clarity.

The story is structured well, jumping back and forth between current action and flashback without much problem (I should point out that my rating is more like 4.5 stars, with the half deducted for the middle section, which amounts to little more than two people laying on a hotel bed, one telling the other her life story. Every time we're taken out of the action to think about that [as when Valka comments on some part of Moonie's story:], it's a reminder that our two main characters have been on their backs and talking for almost 80 pages). The emotional twists at the end were well-handled and not at all maudlin, and though I didn't really need the happy resolution at the end, it was in line with what came before it.

As I say, I don't read much fiction, but I'm sure glad I read this.
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Format: Hardcover
Jami Attenberg tells a somewhat typical road story of a woman, Catherine "Moonie" fleeing from her marriage as well as her hometown. She heads west and ends up in Las Vegas, becoming fast friends with Valka who helps Catherine process her and face her past. The writing is strong and in some parts provides vivid description. A section where Valka and Moonie party with some star impersonators was my favorite part of the book. But the story got repetitive and rambling at times. It lacked a cohesiveness for me that I found distracting. Also, there was a section at the end relating to Moonie's past that I found out of place and very disturbing. I enjoyed Attenberg's short stories, Instant Love better than this book. That said, she's a writer worth watching and checking out.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I didn't enjoy this nearly as much as The Middlesteins, perhaps because I couldn't relate as well to the Las Vegas setting or the plot quandaries of the heroine. Attenberg's prose flows so it's a quick, smooth read, but not besutiful literature. A decent vacation read, I'd say.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the crappiest books I've ever read. The sample portion seemed like a quirky novel with some Vegas thrown in, but five minutes after I purchased it I realized it was toxic. And it only got worse. This book is like combining ten lifetime movies, three afteshcool specials, ten crappy modern country songs and and turning the blender on high. So awful! I didn't even read the last 10%, I just skimmed the last few paragraphs in hopes that at least one of the uncompelling characters died. Spoiler alert: no such satisfaction exists. I will never read anything by this author again. The characters are entirely unappealing and one dimensional and lifted from a hundred other books. The plot is similarly cobbled together. Sassy best friend with a past? check. Sassy gay man? check. Troubled sister? check. Alcoholic parent? check. Rape scene? check. Road trip? check. Spousal abuse? check. Codependant woman on a trite quest for self-discovery? check. Improbably close relationships formed with virtually no backstory? check. i think the only topic left uncovered was immigration, and it was probably tackled somewhere in the pages I skipped. Anything new? No. It's not even a compelling rehash. Save yourself.
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