Wednesday 27 July 2011

Confusing the Seasons

Confusing the Seasons is the new novel by Dan Cavallari. It starts out as a tale of rural family life in northern Maine, where lives are dominated by the weather:

Mainers recognise the seasons with all their senses. Aside from the obvious bite of the autumn and winter chills, these tougher New England souls taste their seasons; smell them; hear them; touch them and see them. As Einar sat in the living room of his home in Northern Maine, not far from Fort Kent, he knew it was cold, knew winter was on its way and the first snowfall wouldn't be far off - before Thanksgiving for sure. He knew this by listening. His silent house gave way to other noises: the crackle of the burning logs in the fireplace, the groans and pops of the house settling into its joints, arthritically cracking from the lasting of heat from within and cold from without. The windows knocking from the gusts of wind outside, interspersed with the crunch and scatter of the dead leaves across the ground and each other outside. These were the signs that the snow was coming, but without them, Einar would still simply know.

Einar's family, like him, are all more or less in tune with the rural environment around them. His daughter's husband though is a city boy, and spends his time with his mobile phone stuck to his face, which alienates him from everyone else in the family. There are of course other tensions in the family, as there are in any family and these are explored carefully and sensitively in the first half of the book, which I really enjoyed.

However, from about half way through, the book changes from heart warming tale of rural family life to blood-thirsty revenge drama. This part of the book is gripping, but just wasn't what I wanted to read, particularly given recent events in Norway. I also felt that I had been mislead somewhat by the book's blurb (which you can read here).

So all in all, I felt this wasn't quite the book I'd hoped it to be, but there is no doubt that Cavallari can write a good, gripping story and I look forward to see his future work. I am also intrigued by his mixed media Apocalypse project.

Confusing the Seasons by Dan Cavallari published by Brown Tie Publishing

Dan has responded to this review on his blog here.

Disclaimer - I received a copy of this book through a Twitter giveaway

As ever, red text in this post, contains hyperlinks which take you to other webpages where you can find out more.


The Weaver of Grass said...

It is always disappointing when a book lets one down somewhat isn't it?
I am a great lover of Bruce Chatwyn's 'On the Black Hill' and also of 'Cold Comfort Farm' both rural books that begin and end in the same way - don't think I could cope with one which changed tack half way through.

Dan said...

Juliet, thanks for the honest review. It was very helpful to me, as I wrote in a blog post that focuses on your very review! It discusses the idea of what can be gained from a negative or neutral review (I gained a lot, I can tell you that!)

You can read it here:

Best to you,
Dan Cavallari

Pomona said...

An interesting and measured response to your review! I have to say that I just don't want to read about violence at all - there is enough in the real world without seeking it in the imaginary one.

Pomona x

Anonymous said...

I just checked the library to see if they had it. That is Scarborough, Dan. They don't have it yet. My husband, David might like it.

We were up in Aroostook this summer. I will say Juliet, it is a land of great extremes.

Dan said...

Pomona: I generally agree with you! Unfortunately, as a writer, sometimes I just don't have a choice. I can just follow the characters and see what they do. That sounds silly, but it's true.

Sandy: at the moment, it's only for sale. Libraries are not likely to have it yet. You can get it on or at The BDN is supposed to do a review soon...

I miss Maine a lot, and when I moved out west, one of the reasons I wrote the book was because I missed being in Maine. One of the things I remember vividly about Maine is the combination of intense beauty with very ugly violence. I don't label Maine a violent place, but as a friend of mine once said as we drove through Albion: "It all looks so idyllic until you imagine what's happening behind those closed curtains."

Anonymous said...

Very interesting - and it's great that the author has responded to your review - excellent!

RG said...

Maine is sort of its own country!