The Books of Tom Perrotta
July 12, 2012
Recently, when I was wondering aloud what to read, as I so frequently do, my good friend suggested that I might enjoy a book called The Leftovers by an author I’d never heard of named Tom Perrotta. The book is set in modern-day America, and unfolds around the experiences of several characters whose previously unremarkable lives have been irretrievably changed by a surprising event. The basic premise of the book is that, quite suddenly, on an otherwise quite ordinary day, a significant portion of the world’s population is, quite inexplicably, removed from the surface of the planet. Simply sucked out of their clothes and borne away, never to return. The coping mechanisms employed by a world suddenly bereft of a goodly number of wives, husbands, friends, and children make for a fascinating study of human nature.
After finishing The Leftovers, I turned to his previous novels—and realized that one of his earlier offerings is the book Election. For those of you who aren’t aware, Election was made into a movie in 1999 starring Reese Witherspoon, Matthew Broderick, and Chris Klein. Darkly hilarious and highly entertaining, this story details the events surrounding a high school race for student council president. To what depths will the characters stoop to ensure that they (or their candidate) obtain office? To find out, you really should read the book and see the movie. While the story remains essentially the same, there’s a twist at the end of the movie that I find interesting.
I enjoy Perrotta’s books not only because of his considerable writing skill and memorable, realistic characters, but also the wry compassion he metes out to his characters. After pummeling them for chapter after chapter with moral dilemmas and emotional upset, Perrotta tends to give in and allow them the opportunity for absolution.
I don’t have time to review each of this fine author’s books, but here is a list of them; I hope you’ll take the time to read one or two for yourself. They’re well worth it.
- The Leftovers (2011)
- The Abstinence Teacher (2007)
- Little Children (2004)
- Joe College (2000)
- Election (1998)
- Wishbones (1997)
Lone Jack Branch