walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_The Leftovers_, Tom Perrotta (unfinished)

I've only read the first half, part of the end, and then discussed it at book group. But first things first, SPOILERS! Run Away You Terrified Reader, You!

All right? All clear? No one reading any more? I'm not surprised. Usually we have limited turnout for book group, but a lot of missing regulars turned up today AND a new person! It was a lot of fun. But no one liked the book. Every time I thought about reading it over the last few weeks, I decided to read _Political Demography_ or _The Age of Central Banking_ instead, which says something, I feel sure.

As near as I can tell, this is a subtle, well-constructed, philosophically coherent and mostly unappealing mash-up of the varieties of human responses to grief, the unexpected, the possibly religious and so forth. Perrotta has either had a hell of an education or did some solid research, because recognizable variants of a whole lot of religious cults from around the world and across time show up in new variations in this novel. (Get a Room is a particularly ingenious rework of what I think is a Hindu sex cult that I only knew about as a result of reading A Cartoon History of something or other.) The characters are comprehensively and surprisingly unsympathetic and I was unable to work up much interest in what happened to them -- and I _like_ post-apocalyptic fiction more often than not (altho I have been working very hard to get over that particular character flaw).

Anyway. The Messiah shows up as a girl and is abandoned on a doorstep, rescued by a woman who lost her crappy husband and two children in the Event. But that's all the way at the end. Along the way, Stuff Happens. I really like a moral universe in my fiction, and have a strong preference for Let's Be the Best We Can Be and Help Each Other Out -- humanism and self-actualization type of stuff, but I'll take a Good Guys vs Bad Guys story most of the time as well. Perrotta's Post Event world is relentlessly free of meaning, despite the efforts of many.

Which is probably just another aspect of all the realism that pervades this book.

Seriously, I would _much_ rather be reading about Central Banking. But YMMV. I think it's quite a great novel, actually. Just not for me, or anyone else in the book group I attend.
Tags: book review, not-a-book-review
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