David Fox's Reviews > The Leftovers

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
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Nov 09, 13

bookshelves: owned-books, reviewed
Read from October 25 to 31, 2013 — I own a copy, read count: 1

Now You See Me Now You Don’t

Zap. Gone. Just like that. One minute you’re coiled around your hot spouse, mouthing moist somethings against the soft give of her neck when voila, there’s a pillow – that’s all. There’s a pair of brown oxfords on the cover of Perrotta’s novel, mist rising from them, shaped almost like something you could reach out & touch, but then again, whoosh, now you see it, now you … you get the picture.

What would you do if you opened your front door, shuffled inside, hollered out, “I’m home baby,” and your loved one popped out from around the corner, a sweet, welcome home smile materializing, when in a flash, no smile, no nothing, not a wisp in her wake, gone like a dream. What would you do? What would you do if you knew that this disappearing scene was occurring in hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of homes across the planet? How would you maintain your sanity? What would get you through the night? Well, that’s the theme Perrotta explores. He asks the questions in a dozen different ways from a myriad of angles. He looks at it from the perspective of a family & society. How would something like this affect our communities? Would our political structures crumble? Who would emerge as leaders? What sorts of cults/new religions would crop up?

Rapture-like plot lines create ample scenarios to explore. Any author deciding to plumb this seemingly apocalyptic tragedy (for those left behind who view it as a tragedy) is presented with literally a vast array of palettes to paint from. And, Perrotta does just that. We get to intimately know a family whose mom inexplicably joins a cult. We become involved with another cult whose leader’s charismatic personality & magnetic hug literally draws his followers to his side. There are the moms & dads who fall into despair beyond description when their families disappear before their very eyes. But, it’s not all doom & gloom. If you enjoy laughing at the rabid evangelical sorts who feel betrayed & mystified when they don’t “ascend” then you’re in for a treat as Perrotta injects some solid comic relief at the expense of these hypocritical buffoons.

Perrotta also does a splendid job of using this plot contrivance as a springboard to explore other universal themes. Loss. Betrayal. Loyalty. Ennui. All of these get fair play in The Leftovers. However, I’ve got a bone to pick & don’t know how quite to state it without giving away more of the plot than I should. So, let me say this: there’s more to this rapture than meets the eye, mine anyway. And, as I read the book’s final sentence I found myself waiting for more. Unfortunately, like the rapture itself, naught was there.
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Reading Progress

10/25/2013 marked as: currently-reading
10/31/2013 marked as: read

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David Fox Now You See Me Now You Don’t

Zap. Gone. Just like that. One minute you’re coiled around your hot spouse, mouthing moist somethings against the soft give of her neck when voila, there’s a pillow – that’s all. There’s a pair of brown oxfords on the cover of Perrotta’s novel, mist rising from them, shaped almost like something you could reach out & touch, but then again, whoosh, now you see it, now you … you get the picture.

What would you do if you opened your front door, shuffled inside, hollered out, “I’m home baby,” and your loved one popped out from around the corner, a sweet, welcome home smile materializing, when in a flash, no smile, no nothing, not a wisp in her wake, gone like a dream. What would you do? What would you do if you knew that this disappearing scene was occurring in hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of homes across the planet? How would you maintain your sanity? What would get you through the night? Well, that’s the theme Perrotta explores. He asks the questions in a dozen different ways from a myriad of angles. He looks at it from the perspective of a family & society. How would something like this affect our communities? Would our political structures crumble? Who would emerge as leaders? What sorts of cults/new religions would crop up?

Rapture-like plot lines create ample scenarios to explore. Any author deciding to plumb this seemingly apocalyptic tragedy (for those left behind who view it as a tragedy) is presented with literally a vast array of palettes to paint from. And, Perrotta does just that. We get to intimately know a family whose mom inexplicably joins a cult. We become involved with another cult whose leader’s charismatic personality & magnetic hug literally draws his followers to his side. There are the moms & dads who fall into despair beyond description when their families disappear before their very eyes. But, it’s not all doom & gloom. If you enjoy laughing at the rabid evangelical sorts who feel betrayed & mystified when they don’t “ascend” then you’re in for a treat as Perrotta injects some solid comic relief at the expense of these hypocritical buffoons.

Perrotta also does a splendid job of using this plot contrivance as a springboard to explore other universal themes. Loss. Betrayal. Loyalty. Ennui. All of these get fair play in The Leftovers. However, I’ve got a bone to pick & don’t know how quite to state it without giving away more of the plot than I should. So, let me say this: there’s more to this rapture than meets the eye, mine anyway. And, as I read the book’s final sentence I found myself waiting for more. Unfortunately, like the rapture itself, naught was there.


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