A Slot Machine Ate My Mid-Life Crisis by Irene Woodbury
A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis, Irene Woodbury’s first novel, was inspired by her love of travel writing. Between 2000 and 2006, her stories appeared in many newspapers, including the Washington Post, London Daily Telegraph, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Toronto Star, and Nevada and The Affluent Traveler magazines.
One of the author’s favorite destinations was Las Vegas; she always believed Sin City would be the perfect setting for a novel. In 2006, she came up with the idea for Slot, and, four-and-a-half years, and many visits later, it was finished.
Irene is convinced her book wouldn’t work nearly as well in any other city. “Las Vegas has a frenetic energy to it,” she says, “and there’s plenty of chaos and confusion to go around. Is there a better place for a midlife crisis? I don’t think so.”
The author has lived in two of the locations featured in her novel: Los Angeles, where she worked at the Los Angeles Times, IBM, and Time Magazine, and Houston, where she graduated from the University of Houston in 1993. She also got married in Houston. (Yes, like Wendy, her lead character, but Irene insists the similarities end there!) Her husband, Richard, a retired Time Magazine correspondent, edited her novel.
Since 1994, the couple have called Denver home. As for midlife crises — his, hers, yours, mine — Irene believes it’s a time for asking questions. “Where am I? Where have I been? Where am I going? That’s it in a nutshell,” she says. “Writing this novel has been my midlife crisis. And it’s not over yet!”
Unorthodox. That’s the first word that comes to mind after reading A Slot Machine Ate My Mid-Life Crisis. (You would think the title would be a tip off, huh?) Newlywed Wendy travels to Vegas with her BFF for a long weekend and decides to stay…indefinitely. And what started out to be “I just need time to myself” turns into living in separate cities for almost two years.
After getting married, moving from Houston to LA, losing her job, and having trouble fitting in with the Texas crowd, Wendy is overwhelmed with the changes in her life (experts say that three major changes in one year is enough to send even the most steady-minded into a tailspin.) She falls headlong into the surreal reality of the Vegas Strip. Basically, she just doesn’t go home.
Roger (husband) is patient and understanding—more so than most husbands would be. He’s very involved in his job and has so much on his plate that it’s hard for him to coddle Wendy and support her in her wacky decision (or indecision, as it may be) to see what opportunities Vegas holds for her.
Personally, I had a hard time relating to Wendy. She’s self-centered and self-absorbed, callous toward her husband’s feelings, and out and out childish at times. Through most of the book, I wanted to shake her, shove a Xanax down her throat, and put her on a plane back to her husband.
The book was told in first person, so Wendy’s is the only internal perspective the reader gets. And just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore, she would connect back with her husband—usually in a fight—and he would tell her she was being hurtful, unfair, and needed to come home. A reality check that she didn’t heed. But it helped to ground the story for me. (At least I wasn’t the only one who felt she needed to be sent to her room without supper.)
A Slot Machine Ate My Mid-Life Crisis is a train wreck of a story. I would read, shake my head, and crane my neck to see what would happen next. (Do people really live like this?) I’d cringe, look away, then look back at the carnage that was Wendy’s marriage. I couldn’t put it down! Yep, unorthodox, definitely and for sure! And a super read from beginning to end.
Hey, Readers–Irene’s Tour also includes a giveaway. Be sure to leave a comment on her tour page at Chicklit Plus to register to win!
And as always, thanks for coming by! <3, Amie