Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Leftovers - Tom Perrotta

My only experience with Perrotta prior to this was two movies - Little Children, which I liked, and Election which I didn't. His books definitely seem like something up my alley, but I'd never been compelled to pick one up.

This one sounded ideal for me. I love the different portrayals authors make of those "left behind" or in this case, "Leftover."

The prologue, for me, was genius. Absolutely hilarious. I thought it was setting the stage for what was going to be an uproarious social satire. It was not. Though there were moments of humor beyond the start, they were few and far between. What I found most about this book was that it was subtle.

For a long while it felt to me like "The Stepford Wives: The Rapture Years". I'm not a plot point type of reviewer, so this is nothing that you can't read on the jacket copy. There was an event, and a lot people disappeared from the planet. But this isn't some kind of 12 Monkey's type world. It's about normal people, with cell phones and jobs, coming to terms with what happened, and moving on with their lives. The aftermath of the aftermath if you will.

I was feeling really critical of the book because for a long time it felt so emotionless. Some people lost entire families, yet there was no grief. I didn't feel connected to anybody, and the back of the book said "a colorful cast of characters" and I just wasn't getting it, at all (with one minor exception.)

And then it sort of transcended and all came together. And what felt subtle and emotionless as I was going through it, left me feeling ultimately as though I'd been on an emotional journey the whole time.

Being unfamiliar with Perrotta's work, I'm not sure if this is par for his course. But I think that this book has potential to feel disappointing at points through the course of reading it. If it feels like that, I'd encourage you to stick with it. The book rarely veers from its subtlety, and I'm not promising a great ending ... But the way in which it evolved was quite masterful.

4/5 stars

1 comment:

Marlene Detierro said...

I felt like the most poignant moment in the story was Nora's letter to Kevin, when she finally explains her Rapture experience. It was an example of how sometimes things that seem so mundane actually become the most important turning point in your life. Also, how loss/grief/transitions are not all experienced in the same way and often times it can propel people into the next phase of their life. Change is often scary, but not always a negative thing.
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