We gave it an A
Set in and around Portland, Maine, and spanning more than three decades (1958 to the present), Cold Times cuts back and forth between two working-class families, the Rudges and the Pembrokes. In alternating episodes, the anger, bitterness, and habitual violence of the four Pembrokes is contrasted with the stubborn, but stubbornly unvoiced, love among the five Rudges.
It takes several hundred pages to twine the two families together. The story’s logic, and the events that dramatize it, is governed entirely by character, and by the accidents of living: People meet — at the fish factory, the packing plant, the local speedway — and lives change. Sometimes vaguely, other times drastically. This is a grim, unhappy novel, yet it’s also, and always, exhilarating.