Jacob Miller is angry with himself, the world, and God. Life seems so unfair, so cruel, that he can’t imagine why anyone even tries. After having a nervous breakdown, selling his business, filing for bankruptcy, having a baby, and finding out he owes over twenty grand in taxes, he is hardly happy to be alive. In the span of a year, Jacob will discover three very important things about life. Things can always be worse. There really is a God. And if you wait long enough anything can change. A Season Without Rain explores that gray area between poverty and middle class life, the struggling underclass for whom there are no advocates. A powerful story told in a modern, everyday voice that will entrench readers in Jacob Miller’s black world of anger, hate, resentment, lies, and violence. A Season Without Rain is Joe Schwartz’s first novel. His previous short story collections Joe’s Black T-Shirt, The Games Men Play, and The Veiled Prophet of St. Louis have been acclaimed vulgar as Bukowski and visceral as Carver. Joe lives and works in St. Louis happily writing stories exclusively about the Gateway City.
I was blown away by how impressed I was by the style of writing in A Season Without Rain. Jacob is an everyman for hard times after 2000.
I found myself equally rooting for him, and yelling at him (that he was smarter than this) throughout the novel–that level of engagement is refreshing.
Jacob doesn’t take responsibility in so many aspects of his destiny and the destiny of his family until the end–and that’s when he realizes what is important in life and can truly live the life that will give him the most value.
While I’ve spent little time in St Louis, it is clear that Joe knows and cares about this setting–and while every city may have this story, the setting of St Louis (that the author loves) shows in every page of this novel.
The parks department has been glamorized by the show Parks and Recreation in NBC, but it was nice to get a better (more realistic) perspective of the job, especially since many of the positions within this department are vital in the overall enjoyment of the parks, but overlooked by many of the people enjoying the parks. In this book, the system seems a lot like a purgatory of sorts, a waiting room while people wait to move onto the next part of their lives.
The September 11 spin (where were you when) was something that gave the story a fixed point in time, apart from the dated chapter titles–and it served as a necessary reminder. Everyone remembers where they were when the towers fell, and I think that it’s also important not to overlook the fact he was in an OB-GYN waiting room while this happened–a place so happy against something so incredibly sad.
At one point, I had a really hard time pinpointing Jacob’s age, but ended up realizing he was about a decade older than me–I was surprised that he had been married for so long, however that his marriage was shaken up a bit by his actions (or rather, his nonaction) in the book–I think time has a way of lulling us into complacence–and he needed that shakeup.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book–but I have to warn you, once started you will probably be reading this in one sitting. I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and think that you will, too.
Check out the book, and you can even check out Joe at the following links:
Also, if you’re so inclined, you may want to check out Amazon— the e version of the book is under $5 (Note, I get no affiliate costs for this book–just putting it out there).