cover image The Melting Season

The Melting Season

Jami Attenberg, . . Riverhead, $25.95 (289pp) ISBN 978-1-59448-896-2

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.)