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4 Burnside Literature- A to Z

The Leftovers

by

The Leftovers Cover

ISBN13: 9780312358341
ISBN10: 0312358342
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book for 2011
A USA Today 10 Books We Loved Reading in 2011 Title
One of NPR's 10 Best Novels of 2011

What if — whoosh, right now, with no explanation — a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down?

That's what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened — not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children.

Kevin Garvey, Mapletons new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin's own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne. Only Kevin's teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and shes definitely not the sweet “A” student she used to be. Kevin wants to help her, but he's distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.

With heart, intelligence and a rare ability to illuminate the struggles inherent in ordinary lives, Tom Perrotta has written a startling, thought-provoking novel about love, connection and loss.

Review:

"[Perrotta's] most ambitious book to date....The premise is as simple as it is startling (certainly for the characters involved). The novel is filled with those who have changed their lives radically or discovered something crucial about themselves, as radical upheaval generates a variety of coping mechanisms. Though the tone is more comic than tragic, it is mainly empathic, never drawing a distinction between "good" and "bad" characters, but recognizing all as merely human — ordinary people dealing with an extraordinary situation." Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Review:

"Ever since Little Children, Tom Perrotta has been a master chronicler of suburban ennui, but he takes things to a new level with his wry, insightful, unputdownable novel The Leftovers....Profoundly entertaining...The Leftovers brims with joy, hilarity, tenderness and hope." Marie Claire

Review:

"The Leftovers is, simply put, the best Twilight Zone episode you never saw." Stephen King, New York Times Book Review

Review:

"[Perrotta's] most mature, absorbing novel, one that confirms his development from a funnyman to a daring chronicler of our most profound anxieties and human desires....Leavened with humor and tinged with creepiness, this insightful novel draws us into some very dark corners of the human psyche." Washington Post

Review:

"An engrossing read." People

Review:

"The Leftovers is sort of an “Our Town” for End Times. Tom Perrotta, our Balzac of the burbs, has come up with a wild premise for his engaging, entertaining new novel. Suddenly, a huge number of people vanish from this earth. The only explanation is that The Rapture has occurred....He narrows his affectionate and gently satiric focus to the middle-American village of Mapleton and shows us a bunch of folks trying to get on with their lives....The novel intertwines these stories at a graceful pace in prose so affable that the pages keep turning without hesitation. With Perrotta at the controls, you buy the set-up and sit back as he takes off." Chicago Sun Times

Review:

"Perrotta combines absurd circumstance and authentic characters to wondrous effect, turning his story into a vivid exploration of what we believe, what matters most, and how, if untethered, we move on....Perrotta treats his characters with sympathy and invites the reader to do the same." Seattle Times

Review:

"In his provocative new novel Tom Perrotta dives straight into our unease...its a gentle, Perrotta-esque go at sci-fi, without any mangled bodies or bombed-out buildings; its a realistic novel built on a supernatural foundation." Boston Globe

Review:

"Perrotta's gift is his ability to infuse satire with warmth, to find significance in the absurd. It's easy to mock extreme forms of religious expression. It's harder to find their meaning and application. Perrotta does both in this rich and oddly reassuring read." More Magazine

Review:

"The best book about the Rapture since the New Testament." Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Start with what the author calls a Rapture-like phenomenon, mix in some suburban angst, and poof: All other apocalyptic fiction gets blown away." O, The Oprah Magazine

Synopsis:

A startling, thought-provoking novel about love, connection, and loss from the New York Times bestselling author of The Abstinence Teacher and Little Children.

What if the Rapture happened and you got left behind? Or what if it wasn’t the Rapture at all, but something murkier, a burst of mysterious, apparently random disappearances that shattered the world in a single moment, dividing history into Before and After, leaving no one unscathed? How would you rebuild your life in the wake of such a devastating event?

This is the question confronting the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, a formerly comfortable suburban community that lost over a hundred people in the Sudden Departure. Kevin Garvey, the new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized neighbors, even as his own family falls apart. His wife, Laurie, has left him to enlist in the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence but haunt the streets of town as “living reminders” of God’s judgment. His son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet by the name of Holy Wayne. Only his teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet A student she used to be.

Through the prism of a single family, Perrotta illuminates a familiar America made strange by grief and apocalyptic anxiety. The Leftovers is a powerful and deeply moving book about people struggling to hold onto a belief in their own futures.

About the Author

Tom Perotta is the author of six works of fiction, including The Wishbones, Election and Joe College. His novels Election and Little Children were made into acclaimed and award-winning movies. He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

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Average customer rating based on 13 comments:

kalireads, July 31, 2014 (view all comments by kalireads)
Tom Perotta’s 2011 novel, The Leftovers, about a town recovering from a rapture-like event, is the basis for HBO’s brooding new series of the same name. Perotta is no stranger to book-to-screen adaptations: he wrote both Little Children and Election.

The Leftovers, as a novel, has little of the darker style and mysterious mood conveyed with in the HBO series. The novel feels overwhelming, funny, and sad in the same way that Colson Whitehead’s Zone One feels overwhelming, funny, and sad. Perotta and Whitehead delve into what happens after an immediate global crisis begins to fade, and people must keep on living daily life. Survivors realize there is laundry to be done, homework to be completed, and small talk to be made at the dinner table. While Whitehead explores the equivalent of day-in-day-out garbage removal in a post-zombie apocalypse city, in The Leftovers, Perotta creates a more open, and perhaps more intriguing, concept.

If you haven’t been watching the show, here’s the general plot summary for both the novel and the series: a “random harvest” of people throughout the globe has disappeared, in an event neutrally coined as the “Sudden Departure.” Immediate panic subsides as the event seems to be a singular occurrence, and government investigations find no clear answer or medical explanation. Connections to the rapture are obvious, but are in constant debate as those who disappeared seem so remarkably random, and not of one religion or belief system. The Leftovers, as the title indicates, is not the story of the event itself but of that time when life must go on, post-Sudden Departure. We join those left behind in a quaintly small town, as they try to pick up the pieces of society or encourage those very pieces to fall apart.

Those who want to move on from the event struggle in private ways, and those who think there is an insanity in seeking normal life after such a disastrous event gravitate towards one of the various fringe groups which develop in response to the Sudden Departure. Each cult seeks to put their own spin on the tragedy, often with destructive results.

There are quite a few negative reviews of the novel, which I found surprising. It was highly praised on its release in 2011, and has been sitting on my Amazon Wishlist for years. I found it be an ultimately jolting, but mostly beautifully meditative, examination of how we try to heal from things by claiming them as our own. We seek to possess tragedy in a way that ends up destroying us. As other reviewers note, there is a bit of shock at the ending, so if you invest in only positive endings in your reading then I’d suggest avoiding books about a post-Rapture world in general.

Now to what people really want to know--how does the novel compare with the show?

If you like the show, should you get the book? I think it depends on what you like about the show. Stylistically, the show presents post-Sudden Departure life as intriguing, while the novel goes for the tone of people living through just another day. I think this difference adds a level of mystery to the show which wasn’t sought in the book’s original tone.

What the book does have is Laurie’s thoughts, as she goes about her days at the Guilty Remnant. With much narration from Laurie’s perspective, the reader learns about the Guilty Remnant, Laurie’s motives, and the history of the Sudden Departure and her family. This would be impossible on the show, as Laurie has taken an oath of silence and a voice-over narrating her thoughts would be incredibly awkward.

If you’re curious to know more about both cults presented, the Guilty Remnant and Holy Wayne’s group, then the book has your answers. But if you are seeking some sort of greater-than-human explanation, prepare to be underwhelmed. The tone of the book is plain, the actions people take in the book are those of desperate, scared people, and none of it is dressed up by Liv Tyler’s beauty or haunting music (nothing against these two things, just don’t be disappointed in the book, when they aren’t there).

The book mainly focuses on the Garvey family, and there are many characters mentioned in passing which the show seems to have fully fleshed out into their own episodes. If we see more of this, the post-Sudden Departure storyline planted in the book could grow much larger in the series. I’m interested to see if the show will follow the book’s actual plot. If it does, due to the jarring ending I mentioned before, it seems like they may have quite a few unhappy viewers on their hands. For this reason, if you’re worried about spoilers, I’d recommend holding off on reading the novel until the series is finished or led so far astray the original storyline the spoiler risk seems minimal.

Tom Perotta is working on the series as a co-creator, writer, and executive producer, so he definitely could have started something in the book that he could finish in the series, exploring how society deals with an event that feels catastrophic, but maybe not catastrophic enough. When bad things happen, Perotta seems to be asking us, should the wheels keep turning? Or should they fall off?
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
mamaknitty, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by mamaknitty)
Something happened. The reader never actually finds out but only some people have just simply vanished. Some right before the eyes of people nearby. The story is about the people who were not taken and how they choose to live their lives in the aftermath of this phenomenon. I love Perrotta's writing which covers many different emotions through many different characters. Yes Virginia this is an emotional book not plot driven. But that's my thing. I like getting into the heads of people and Perrotta does that really well. I heard someone say this book is like a really cool Twilight Zone episode and I think that is a perfect description of this book
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
sheilaarnold39, December 30, 2012 (view all comments by sheilaarnold39)
This book has an interesting premise, but is not a smooth read. It was a bit disconcerting going to all the different people and having to keep up with so much information. I often confused Nora and her sister, Karen. Towards the end, I could feel this rise to a climax, that, for me, just never happened.

Note that the writer does write well, but I wasn't left with memories and book friends.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 13 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312358341
Author:
Perrotta, Tom
Publisher:
St. Martin's Griffin
Author:
Boutsikaris, Dennis
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20120522
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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The Leftovers Used Hardcover
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$6.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages St. Martin's Griffin - English 9780312358341 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[Perrotta's] most ambitious book to date....The premise is as simple as it is startling (certainly for the characters involved). The novel is filled with those who have changed their lives radically or discovered something crucial about themselves, as radical upheaval generates a variety of coping mechanisms. Though the tone is more comic than tragic, it is mainly empathic, never drawing a distinction between "good" and "bad" characters, but recognizing all as merely human — ordinary people dealing with an extraordinary situation."
"Review" by , "Ever since Little Children, Tom Perrotta has been a master chronicler of suburban ennui, but he takes things to a new level with his wry, insightful, unputdownable novel The Leftovers....Profoundly entertaining...The Leftovers brims with joy, hilarity, tenderness and hope."
"Review" by , "The Leftovers is, simply put, the best Twilight Zone episode you never saw."
"Review" by , "[Perrotta's] most mature, absorbing novel, one that confirms his development from a funnyman to a daring chronicler of our most profound anxieties and human desires....Leavened with humor and tinged with creepiness, this insightful novel draws us into some very dark corners of the human psyche."
"Review" by , "An engrossing read."
"Review" by , "The Leftovers is sort of an “Our Town” for End Times. Tom Perrotta, our Balzac of the burbs, has come up with a wild premise for his engaging, entertaining new novel. Suddenly, a huge number of people vanish from this earth. The only explanation is that The Rapture has occurred....He narrows his affectionate and gently satiric focus to the middle-American village of Mapleton and shows us a bunch of folks trying to get on with their lives....The novel intertwines these stories at a graceful pace in prose so affable that the pages keep turning without hesitation. With Perrotta at the controls, you buy the set-up and sit back as he takes off."
"Review" by , "Perrotta combines absurd circumstance and authentic characters to wondrous effect, turning his story into a vivid exploration of what we believe, what matters most, and how, if untethered, we move on....Perrotta treats his characters with sympathy and invites the reader to do the same."
"Review" by , "In his provocative new novel Tom Perrotta dives straight into our unease...its a gentle, Perrotta-esque go at sci-fi, without any mangled bodies or bombed-out buildings; its a realistic novel built on a supernatural foundation."
"Review" by , "Perrotta's gift is his ability to infuse satire with warmth, to find significance in the absurd. It's easy to mock extreme forms of religious expression. It's harder to find their meaning and application. Perrotta does both in this rich and oddly reassuring read."
"Review" by , "The best book about the Rapture since the New Testament."
"Review" by , "Start with what the author calls a Rapture-like phenomenon, mix in some suburban angst, and poof: All other apocalyptic fiction gets blown away."
"Synopsis" by , A startling, thought-provoking novel about love, connection, and loss from the New York Times bestselling author of The Abstinence Teacher and Little Children.

What if the Rapture happened and you got left behind? Or what if it wasn’t the Rapture at all, but something murkier, a burst of mysterious, apparently random disappearances that shattered the world in a single moment, dividing history into Before and After, leaving no one unscathed? How would you rebuild your life in the wake of such a devastating event?

This is the question confronting the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, a formerly comfortable suburban community that lost over a hundred people in the Sudden Departure. Kevin Garvey, the new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized neighbors, even as his own family falls apart. His wife, Laurie, has left him to enlist in the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence but haunt the streets of town as “living reminders” of God’s judgment. His son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet by the name of Holy Wayne. Only his teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet A student she used to be.

Through the prism of a single family, Perrotta illuminates a familiar America made strange by grief and apocalyptic anxiety. The Leftovers is a powerful and deeply moving book about people struggling to hold onto a belief in their own futures.

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