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Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  1,712 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
Tom Perrotta made his literary debut with his short story collection Bad Haircut, earning critical praise and comparisons to Salinger, Carver, and Roth by taking readers to New Jersey in the 1970s as a boy named Buddy struggles with the timeless mysteries of sex, death, parents-and of course, bad haircuts.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 1st 1997 by Berkley Trade (first published 1994)
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Glenn Sumi
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I picked this up a couple of years ago while browsing at NYC's Strand Book Store. I recognized the author’s name but had never heard of the book before and it looked intriguing. (Plus it was deeply discounted.) I wasn't disappointed.

This is Perrotta’s first book – he’d go on to write acclaimed novels like Election, Little Children (both made into films) and The Leftovers (recently made into an HBO TV series). But already the casual, knowing fictional voice is well-developed. The writing is clear
Peter Mcloughlin
I remember the 1970s as dark, gritty, raunchy, disturbing even for a kid in the suburbs like settings of these vignettes but not as gritty as author depiction. The landmarks of the era are all there but seem a little more foreboding than I remember them. Maybe the exaggeration is for dramatic effect but the author is probably correct in portraying the era as an unhealthy one to be a child or a teenager.
Feb 06, 2018 added it
I enjoy Mr Perrotta's writing but I did not like the last chapter of Stories of the Seventies at all - did he run out of time?
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Presenting these vignettes as a collection of stories seems like a lazy way to avoid structuring them into a full-length novel. They're too similar - most, of not all, involve the same protagonist - to be considered a collection of short stories; but the also lack a strong narrative flow to be considered a novel. For all the time the reader spends in the mind of "Buddy", there's never an emotional connection to the character's nostalgia.

That said, Perotta has a talent for painting visceral portr
May 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
Tom Perrotta has written ten amazing stories that captures the essence of how the seventies were. I enjoyed all of the stories but my favorite story was "Forgiveness", the story was told with so much humility and innocence. Also another favorite story was "Just the way we were", but all of the stories tell a unique story about sexual intercourse anxiety, childhood innocence, nostalgia of the past. This has become my favorite book by Perrotha after reading the previous ones, and it also become on ...more
Terri Jacobson
Apr 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
This collection of short stories was written in 1994 when Tom Perrotta was 32 years old. The stories chronicle the coming of age of Buddy, a young man growing up in mid-1970s New Jersey. The stories range from funny to poignant, and they very much evoke that 1970s vibe. I enjoyed the collection very much. 3.5 stars.
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I had no idea this collection of stories even existed. I picked it up on a whim at a used book store and couldn't put it down. Coming-of-age stories about a high school student growing up in New Jersey in the late 1970's, the same time and place where I went to high school, really resonated with me. Funny, charming, insightful, and every detail was perfect.
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary, 2012
Moving away from portraying a community (Spoon River, Winesburg, and The Women of Brewster Place) or a family (Monkeys and Garcia Girls), Tom Perrotta offers us another possibility in the genre of the story cycle. His Bad Haircut follows the same protagonist, Buddy, from the first person point of view, and covers the period between 1969 and 1980, with the bulk of the collection dealing with his high school years.

Like Monkeys, there is not much “interconnectedness” because the whole collection is
Tom Pepper
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a very compelling book if you happen to have grown up in the suburbs during the 1970s. I did (not in New Jersey, but there was little difference), and the world Perotta describes here is sadly familiar.

I’ve read other of Perrota’s books, and hated them—mostly pathetic fantasies of dim-witted narcissists. Neither the characters nor the author ever seem to come to any real understanding of the world they live in; they just fantasize that sex with a new and prettier partner will somehow ma
Oct 27, 2017 rated it liked it
This memoir by Tom Perrotta is about his high school years growing up in the 1970's. The story felt real but not common to my experiences in the 70's as I was a different age from the author at that time. I found the book interesting enough to easily read through but not the humorous tale I had hoped for. JohnMorn
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
My good friend, Mark McCabe sent this book to me. Both Donna and I read and enjoyed it. It is a series of short stories about growing up in New Jersey during the same era when we were growing up. There is a lot of humor and wisdom in the stories.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tom Perrotta captures uncannily familiar snapshots of teenagers coming of age in the seventies. He takes one back to the sometimes joyful and oftentimes troubling ackwardness of the time. Bad Haircut is a very enjoyable, nostalgic read.
Tanvir Muntasim
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Tom Perrotta's debut book is a fiercely nostalgic collection of inter-connected stories (with the same protagonist) that explores various facets of growing up in the 70's. Funny, sad and poignant and showed his promise as a writer which he went on to fulfil through his future novels.
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
A set of short stories that capture the 1970's in small town America. Perrotta shares vignettes from the view of the same narrator at various ages.
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Love the author, just not this short story collection.
Kevin Roones
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Entertaining collection of short stories that brings the reader back to the Seventies.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hingham-library
I really enjoyed these stories. The book is a very quick read but each story left me thinking of my experiences growing up in the 70's. Although most of the stories, with slight revisions, could have been placed in time period.
Cheree Martin
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Decent but not a favorite. Easy fast read.
The full title of this book by Tom Perrotta is Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies and, though it is a collection of short stories, its ten tales are all narrated by the same character, are set in the same place and appear in chronological order. Nevertheless, each story is self-contained and few characters or events appear more than once. The narrator is a teenager named Buddy and he lives in a small town in New Jersey. Each story deals with a particular episode in Buddy's life and he's usual ...more
Gus Carter
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dan Phillips
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
While Little Children is still my favorite Perrotta novel, this debut has its charms. The narrative is in the form of inter-locking short stories which I believe are all from the point of view of the same character (Buddy), presumably a version of the author himself. Progressing chronologically from elementary school shenanigans through the first couple of summers back home during college breaks, the era details are sharp, and the characters are swiftly-drawn and just as funny as they are heartb ...more
Feb 01, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
So glad I'm finally done. For some reason, my Intro to Fiction thinks this is the pinnacle of perfect writing. I do not. The stories were fine, but their rendering was sometimes painful. Perrotta writes like he is getting paid for every cliché and trope he uses. His attempts at creative writing are nearly zero. I don't care how funny/heartfelt these "stories from the seventies" are, they were so poorly written that I regret spending time reading this book. Intro to Fiction should be about explai ...more
Rich Sanidad
May 10, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm still trying to figure out why I enjoyed Perrotta's other book, Nine Inches: Stories, more than Bad Haircut.... The writing style was quite similar, so maybe it had something to do with the lighter tone of the book. Maybe I liked it better when his short stories were not related to one another. [Not a spoiler: all of the short stories in this book have the same protagonist, Buddy.] I did enjoy the coming of age theme of the whole book, so maybe it was the main character. I don't feel like he ...more
Karen Germain
Dec 08, 2007 rated it liked it
After finishing Perrotta's "Little Children", I rushed to the bookstore to pick up another one of his books. I decided to go with this collection of short stories set in the 1970's. All of the stories follow a central character, but are not necessarily related, although all deal with a boy coming of age in New Jersey.

I think my favorite story was the last in the collection, about the death of the boy's neighbor and his duty as pallbearer. It was touching.

Most of the stories were a blend of poign
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Excellent short story collection. Perrotta's stories are honest, touching, and hysterical. This book should not even have the subtitle limiting it to the Seventies. Anyone could relate to the stories that take us through his high school experience. I felt like the book could have done well on it's own with 'Bad Haircut'.. still the author wanted to make this the anti-Wonder Years-- erasing the poignancy and sugar-coated feeling of that TV show, which it does, but it is also poignant in its own w ...more
Jul 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Whitney
I've now read all of Tom Perrotta's books and this one, billed as a collection of short stories, but really one short novel broken into episodes, may be my least favorite. That being said, it's still a great book. I really like everything he's done, and this is his first book, so you've gotta cut him some slack.

Like his other books, these stories take place in New Jersey. He manages to make things funny, touching, awkward, and thought-provoking all at the same time.

I think he has a great eye fo
John Matthews
Dec 07, 2013 rated it did not like it
Life is too short to read bad books, is my mantra and one short story into Mr. Perrotta’s collection I had to jump ship. The story in this case was “The Weiner Man” in which a boy goes with his den pack to meet a hotdog company mascot. What could be amusing in someone else’s hands here just ends up reading like dull Boomer memoir with no apparent point. I’m pretty sure there was sex in this story but the author chose not to describe it. Not sure if that was modesty or if he was hoping for fan le ...more
Iris P
May 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like the way these stories start and end so abruptly. Yes, I know that's what a short story is about, but I'm somewhat new to the genre and I appreciate how these were true snapshots where I was quickly lured in and then abruptly spat out. Makes me think of Alice & her rabbit hole. I'm not generally a huge fan of 'coming-of-age' stories but this collection gave a good mix, I thought, and did a good job at portraying those years when we do the most ridiculous things because we're just so in ...more
Mark R.
Jul 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
"Bad Haircut" is an excellent collection of stories, ten in total, by Tom Perrotta. Each story is around twenty pages and each takes place in the seventies, during the childhood and teenage years of one protagonist, "Buddy".

The stories are written in an autobiographical manner, in the same easy, dialogue-heavy prose in which Perrotta writes his novels.

While this collection doesn't quite match the emotion and humor of his novels, it is very entertaining and fast reading. Some of the stories are
Jun 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Better than The Wishbones and Joe College, not as good as The Leftovers or Little Children.
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Tom Perrotta is the bestselling author of nine works of fiction, including Election and Little Children, both of which were made into Oscar-nominated films, and The Leftovers, which was adapted into a critically acclaimed, Peabody Award-winning HBO series. His other books include Bad Haircut, The Wishbones, Joe College, The Abstinence Teacher, Nine Inches, and his newest, Mrs. Fletcher. His work h ...more
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“Sharon had moved to Springdale in November of our senior year. She just appeared out of nowhere in four of my classes…I couldn't stop staring at her. I had this weird feeling she was going to be important.” 0 likes
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