Wednesday, August 31, 2011

'The Leftovers': Shouldn't that be Left-Behinds?


Review: THE LEFTOVERS (Macmillan Audio 2011)
By guest blogger Star Lawrence
Author, Tom Perrotta; Reader, Dennis Boutsikaris


This is a book about a shared tragedy and the different takes on it…No…

This is about suburbia and the noble depths of average people…Not really. Maybe noble shallows.

This is an arch, ironical look at fundamentalist responses to the inexplicable…Naw. You do keep expecting a swipe at the Far Right. But, like many swipes and insights, it does not come.

This is a book about our times, uncertainty, human resilience...Maybe it was supposed to be.

I didn’t know what to make of this book, despite liking previous works by this author. The setup is that a Rapture-like event has happened—millions from all religions, not just Christianity, are “disappeared,” never to be seen again. Included are the pope and Greta Van Susteren.

So how do the “Leftovers” handle this? Truly, this is a before and after deal. “I was one way before and different after”—you know what I mean. Or was it? Maybe there is blah blah—WOW BIG EVENT—blah blah.

We focus on a couple of people in a burg called Mapleton. The mayor’s wife decamped to the largest post-Departure cult, the Guilty Remnant, where the people wear white, remain silent, take up smoking even if they didn’t before, and stare at the “Leftovers” to make them uncomfortable until the real fun starts with Judgment Day.  Her son drops out of college and takes up with another cult, the Holy Waynes. You can read for yourself what they are into.

The mayor is at loose ends, what with no wife, never hearing from his son (a Holy Wayne, then a Barefooter), his daughter screwing up HS,  and dealing with nutty people in town complaining about their newspaper delivery. He kind of dates a woman whose children were both scooped up in the Departure. She prides herself on being a good girlfriend—but isn’t.

A baby is being born—will it be you know, a Big Deal, Savior-Type  Baby—or just the offspring of a polygamist wannabee?

My problem with this book is that it made people seem irritatingly bland even in the face of big events. Yes, we all cope in our own way…But style, people, have some style!  Dennis Boutsikaris is one of my favorites—but his flat, soft acting makes most characters sound similar.

Incidentally, I listened to an interview with the author—and this was supposed to be a comedy. Completely did not see that one coming.

A comedy. Amazing!

I did learn one thing, though—from now on, in all books, there is a One-Cult Maximum. And next time, Greta Van Susteren gets to live to explain everything.

Star Lawrence is the owner of the health humor site, HEALTH’Sass, at http://healthsass.blogspot.com, keeping people alive and laughing since 2006. She is also trying to help get people through the Recession at http://hopeycopey.blogspot.com.

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