Hoffman, Amy. “The Off Season”, University of Wisconsin Press, 2017.
Provincetown and “Provincetownians”
I have no idea if there is a name for those who live in Provincetown so I made one up. I do, however, know that I have always been a huge fan of Amy Hoffman’s writing. I was finally lucky enough to meet Amy recently and to invite her to speak at my temple in Brookline, Massachusetts so put the date on your calendar and join us on March 2 at Temple Sinai for our Rainbow Shabbat with Amy.
In her new novel, “The Off Season” Hoffman takes us to Provincetown for a very funny series of events. Now in her mid-thirties and an artist, Nora Griffin moves from Brooklyn to Provincetown. Her partner, Janelle, is recovering from breast cancer treatment and they both decided that off-season at the tip of Cape Cod is the best place for both of them— Janelle could heal and Nora could paint. But things that sound so goods in planning do not always work out as expected. The women had not accounted for Baby Harris (how would they know?) who flirts into Nora’s life (Hoffman’s wonderful detail lets us now that Baby was shod in red cowboy boots).
If you have been in P’town for the winter, you know that it is quite different then it is on those airy spring and summer nights. Winters there are cold and windy thus causing Nora to have to deal with
heartbreak, aging, and local environmental concerns as she works on hat she hopes is going to be her painting masterpiece, while painting what she hopes will be her masterpiece. But she also has to deal with her “chain-smoking, motor scooter–driving landlady Miss Ruby” as well as with Reverend Patsy, the vegan minister of the Unitarian church and Brunhilde, a barista and rival for Baby’s affections. As winter turns to spring and then to summer, the first tourists begin to arrive in June and Nora must make decisions decide she really wants from life.
P’town is known for its diversity and that is so evident here. Hoffman gives us a look at the town and its people that prove this. There is a great deal of humor here but more important is that we see the place of community in our lives especially when we come face-to-face with hostility. We might say that this is an important and serious topic that is related to us with great humor. My living in the Boston area made this novel come alive for me and I indulged in the guilty pleasure of stopping everything and reading this through in one sitting. I love how Amy Hoffman takes on serious situations so that we can have fun with them. She is irreverent and fresh at the same time and she always has us wanting more.