Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Author a Day for Thirty Days: Day 22

I definitely think it's time that I point out that this whole "We'll post something every day!" thing was Gianna's idea. Gianna is in New York right now (first reason to hate her), and she talked to Whoopi Goldberg today (second reason). And it's not her night to post something; I forgot it's my night (reason #3, at least for me). Sigh. Here's the text conversation that just occurred:

I just walked through my book room and happened to spot a Tom Perrotta book on the shelf. A quick Google search revealed that we've never mentioned Tommy P on our blog. This should be further evidence of how sad this blog is. Don't you have something better to do? Laundry?SVU marathon? Anything? It's pretty obvious that we aren't good bloggers or real book lovers. I'm pretty sure that Gianna's not even Italian. I think she may be Scotch. I bet she sleeps in a kilt.
Reese, I forgive you
the tacky arrest video
because of this role.

Right. Tom Perrotta. Perrotta's books have been made into some great movies--Election was Reese Witherspoon's best work and Little Children contains something Gianna looks for in a movie (Kate Winslet)--but the books are terrific on their own. I think of Perrotta as the confessor of suburbia, revealing the sins of the seemingly happy. He's a social satirist of the first order. In Election, the All-American teenagers are revealed to be manipulative, desperate, and fragile. Their teachers are just as conflicted and sometimes dangerous, but no one here is either pure victim or pure menace. And Tom Perrotta knows how to write chaos with a comedic edge.

The Leftovers is Tom Perrotta's twist on the dystopia craze in literature. In this case, people have disappeared suddenly, from all over the world, on the same day. Is it the Rapture? The characters aren't sure. How would those leftover people know? And how would they continue their lives? How does a kid pick up and go to college and focus on studying when the world may (or may not) be ending? The Leftovers asks some interesting questions about religion, philosophy, and the meaning of life. I've heard rumors that the book's being adapted for a TV series (HBO?), and if so, I will absolutely be watching.

Little Children. I think of this book in the same way that I think about the movie American Beauty. Both make me uncomfortable, and I resist them because I think they are probably too right on the money. Two parents meet while taking their children to a neighborhood park. Sarah, the mother of the little girl, worries that she's a bad mother compared to the supermoms also in the park. But she's also a lapsed feminist who feels trapped as a traditional homemaker, wife, and mother. Todd is "the Prom King," the stay at home dad of a son, who doesn't understand his child's obsessions and tries to relive his glorious football past rather than study for and pass the bar exam. In their misery they find company, and over the course of a hot summer they bond as friends (and lovers). On top of that, a man convicted of molesting a child moves in with his mother, and he struggles to find his way in a world where he's labeled, and hounded by a community watch group. No one in this novel is happy, but it's still an incredible read.

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