Kieran Walsh's Reviews > The Leftovers

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
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Feb 03, 2013

really liked it
Read in February, 2012

When I moved to the US I remember driving behind a car one day. It had a bumper sticker that read: ‘In case of rapture this car will be unmanned’. Culturally/Religiously I had to have somebody explain this one (as I’d never even heard of this phenomenon, or if I had I didn’t actually think people really believed in it). My immediate reaction was to laugh but deep down I was a little miffed that somebody would be so confident as to his/her ability to get to heaven. So cocky they’d slap it across their car. Of course after a few years of being in the Buckle of the Bible Belt I came to realize that most of these adherents dished out hypocrisy faster than Iced tea at a revival meeting on a Saturday night in July.
Perrotta didn’t disappoint again! I only got into this guy about 10 years ago but he’s probably one of few writers that I’ll pre-order when I hear that he’s got something new coming out! Like I’ve reviewed before I admire his take on American suburbia (be it the appearance of staid predictability, middle class, professional Stepford Wives façade that can hide the chaos, frustration and unhappiness). This one took on a different slant as it deals with Rapture – albeit not the ‘typical’ Rapture. This group zapped up included sinners, jews, homosexuals, etc, so needless to say there’s immediate mayhem with the folks left behind (including Rev. Johnson, who’s incensed that he wasn’t one of the chosen – his reaction is to smear his departed competitors with gossip, etc, trying to justify that this wasn’t really the Rapture afterall).
Perotta weaves his usual knowledge of humdrum suburbia into this unique experience. Society must, and clichéd as it sounds, go on and, indeed, it does - but with some interesting reactions. The Barefoot People, Healing Hug Movement and the Guilty Remnants are cults that have formed as a reaction to events. Throughout it all is Kevin, who’s the local mayor. He hasn’t lost anybody (at least immediately) but his wife and son join two cults and leave the house.
Funny thing is that life does go on (albeit with this chatter in the background). Families are faced with new realities and they continue to survive. There are still local murders that need resolving, trash that has to be collected and relationships to evolve. Probably best put by Perotta when he writes: "as if the whole world had paused to take a deep breath and steel itself for whatever was going to happen next."
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