This book is presented to the reader with a fairly clinical analysis with a prologue in the form of a letter from the author to the reader mentioning “women’s lib” (in quotation marks as if it was but a fancy) and voting for “blacks”, setting the tone for the rest of the book: a pretty sterile, white, male perspective of the social aspects of 1960s and 70s America.
The author does little to regain any ground lost with his readers his first pages, with hard-nosed protagonist Cam Gordon “snickering” over his divorce, devoid of emotional concern for his ex-wife or teen children (from yet another marriage), rather, outlining financials and his wins. Cam is shown as a logistical parent rather than an emotional one, illustrated in this description,
“Being a single parent was a challenge, especially since he had to leave for Sudbury Station, and then go into New York every day before the boys’ school day began.”
Cam is something of a “Ted Kramer” dad, and I presumed Gibson intentionally set the book up in this way. Surrounded by servile women in an oil company, he’s not really made to get his hands dirty when it comes to parenting or emotional fallout. He’s been married twice, and really throws himself headlong at his career in a macho attempt to be a success rather than working on himself as a person. Cam has his Patrick Bateman moments, pondering on minutiae of office and airplane decor and restaurant food, rather than letting his mind slide into anything more profound where he might have to feel.
However, the idea that Gibson built Cam this way for a later salvation is not the case. The rest of the book tends to hit the same notes. As Cam moves into a rapid relationship with Vicki, the reader spends a lot of time with the characters as they try out various restaurants and meet up in various venues, and ponder over various gifts. The story doesn’t really get deep enough into the issues it promises to hit, and at times the 412 pages seemed much longer because frankly, nothing much happens when I really expected to see a development in Cam, but he still strikes as a vain and materialistic figure more interested in work, women, and dining out than his kids, which leaves his sons sidelined in the book as well as in the story. Even when his thirteen-year-old gets into drugs, it seems an inconvenience for Cam’s commute rather than his heart.
While it could be argued that’s the kind of man he’d be in this era, it’s not really enough to write off the interior parts of a character to this degree, and social issues promised to be explored don’t strike as motifs. I do wonder if the real issue here is that it is slightly autobiographical, and real life is just not very riveting on paper.
This book is very well packaged with a decent cover that reflects the content to some extent. It could do with a quick further proofread, and maybe a content edit to brighten up the story arc.
All in all, Gibson is a promising writer. But A Season of Transitions needed to transition much more to really blossom as the book it intended to be, which may be the case as the second book in the trilogy is published.
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