L.B Sedlacek's Suicide Pumpkins: A Love Story is a fast-paced romp through the shallow, materialistic culture of Hollywood and environs, as well as a look at the apathy and listlessness of its inhabitants. Jessica Tyler, an aimless would-be actress, spends her days wandering through Los Angeles, sleeping on park benches, attending auditions and ridiculous game show tapings, and plotting her impending suicide. Her plans to dive from the infamous Coronado Bay bridge, however, are thwarted by the affluent Jeremy, who rescues her from the bridge and accompanies her back to L.A., where he joins in her homeless meandering and fast food fetish, and subsequently falls in love with her. After several pitfalls, like any Cinderella story, they live happily ever after.
While the novel is a somewhat accurate portrayal of fin de siecle malaise, for some reason it's difficult to connect with these characters -- even like them very much. Their two-dimensionality is only compounded by the somewhat cliched storyline. We always seem to know exactly what the characters are wearing -- even eating - -but little else. The story seems to lack any real heart or importance in the greater scheme of things. Its narrative voice, particularly Jessica's point-of-view, is blase and jaded, caring nothing about anything and inducing the reader to care even less. In addition, a strange and unnecessary point-of-view shift occurs halfway into the book, which dramatically calls negative attention to itself.
At times, the dialogue is jilted and overly cinematic, making the characters even less believable. The most disturbing and ridiculous part of this book, however, is a senseless and overly dramatic violent act that appears to come from out of the blue, which in a better novel may have resonated with meaning, but in this book seems like it's just for kicks. This incident precedes a chapter of stream-of-consciousness fragmentation, which is a stylistically
interesting choice, but eventually degenerates into bad adolescent poetry.
In the end, with its modern take on the Cinderella story and the fast pace of California existence, the novel falls flat, more closely resembling a true story romance than a literary novel. At one point, contemplating suicide, Jessica cries out:
"I am so bored. Get me out of here, please!"
Readers, sadly, share the sentiment.