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The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

The Leftovers (2011)

by Tom Perrotta

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1,2931246,060 (3.41)76
  1. 10
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: If you appreciated the "what if" quality of The Leftovers and its examination of a changed society in which people are struggling to accept the new normal, you may want to read the dystopian classic Brave New World.

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Even though The Leftovers has a hint of a supernatural storyline - the characters have been left behind after the Rapture - it is pure Tom Perrotta. There are many characters, but there is never a problem of forgetting who is who, or what storyline goes with which character. While the overall story is very compelling and well-done, I was most engrossed by the people themselves, as if the novel was an in-depth character study. Perrotta is skilled at making each character a real person, with their own unique history and voice. There were certain lines that made me laugh out loud, and some that made me catch my breath. Pure Perrotta. ( )
  howifeelaboutbooks | Nov 4, 2015 |
After seeing the HBO version of this book, I had to read the novel. It is different from the series. Not completely different but it has a slightly different "feel" to it. One day, "The Rapture" occurs. Or is really The Rapture? Families are torn apart. Whole families disappear. What does this occurrence do to those left behind? I enjoyed the book a lot and I kind of wish there would be a sequel. ( )
  kp9949 | Aug 22, 2015 |
I kept waiting for something significant to happen and it never did. The novel is about those who were left after some worldwide rapture-like event occurred and how they decided to live their lives. Since this did not appear to be a good vs. evil sort of rapture, many people were quite confused as to what really happened. It did not have the moralistic overtones of the Left Behind series. I guess there was some value in that the book made me wonder how I would react if such a situation really did occur, but this was not a thought-provoking book that I would recommend to others. ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
I came to The Leftovers via the HBO series that launched last year. It took a lot of shit – most, I think, because it involves a central mystery that none of the characters are trying to solve – but I really liked it. It was dark, kind of funny in a creepy way, and seemed like a more interesting take on the “Left Behind” phenomenon. I decided the book would be a good way to pass the time on my recent long journey to Cambodia. Naturally, the book is not the TV show and vice versa, but it’s interesting to contrast the two.

The most glaring difference is that the main character, Kevin Garvey, is the mayor of the small town in the book, whereas he’s been made the police chief in the TV show. While that does let him be a bit more proactive with the town’s simmering conflicts, it robs the show of a character who is really doing his best to move the town past the trauma of the departure (a prime example of what a military history prof once referred to as the “Chamber of Commerce mentality).

Which is important, because it allows the Guilty Remnant cult to make a whole lot more sense. On the show they’re always talking about not forgetting, but it doesn’t look like anybody is. The book has a little more forward momentum, which makes the GR’s focus more logical. They manage to come off as less aggravating but more purely evil on the page, however.

Another idea that gets much more developed is the charismatic Holy Wayne, including his rise and fall. To be honest, that whole part of the TV show never really jelled, but it makes much more sense here. Wayne comes off less as a truly supernatural healer and more of a New Agey con man who leaves a trail of hurt in his wake.

But overall, what struck me about the book is that it’s funnier than the show. Not in a knee slapping “this is really hilarious!” kind of way, but just in the tone Tom Perrotta uses. It comes off more as wry observation, as opposed to dark foreboding. It’s enjoyable, which isn’t something I’d say about the show, no matter how much I like it.

The real question is where does the show go next? The first season basically tracks the book, so the show runners are on their own as they go into the future. Maybe with a little more freedom to explore their own creation they’ll find some of the lighter tone from the book.

www.jdbyrne.net ( )
  RaelWV | Aug 16, 2015 |
I felt there was a lot of unrealized potential in this book. It has such an interesting premise, and it was played out well in many ways, but I felt there was something lacking. Still, it was a quick and enjoyable read, and I was always anxious to get back to it after I put it down. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
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One might argue that The Leftovers is missing the details of the Sudden Departure that provide the book’s premise, but that is irrelevant to Perrotta’s purpose. In a post-9/11, post-economic-collapse world, we do not require an apocalyptic event to underwrite the plausibility of sudden, catastrophic change. Perrotta’s true interests — and the novel’s rich gifts — lie in exploring the way that traditional suburban structures of meaning fail to cohere under the pressure of such changes
Perrotta suggests that in times of real trouble, extremism trumps logic and dialogue becomes meaningless. Read as a metaphor for the social and political splintering of American society after 9/11, it’s a chillingly accurate diagnosis.
It is the portions of “The Leftovers” where Mr. Perrotta avoids the more cartoony and melodramatic aspects of his story (having to do with the Sudden Departure and the Guilty Remnant) that are by far the most persuasive. And it is these same sections that showcase his gifts as a novelist: his talent for depicting the ordinary (as opposed to metaphoric or supernatural); his affectionate but astringent understanding of his characters and their imperfections; his appreciation of the dark undertow of loss that lurks beneath the familiar, glossy surface of suburban life.
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For Nina and Luke
First words
Laurie Garvey hadn't been raised to believe in the Rapture.
"Is there anything else you want to know? It's kind of a relief to tell you about it."

Nora knew what she meant. As distressing as it was to learn the details of Doug's affair, it also felt therapeutic, as if a missing chunk of the past were being returned to her.

"Just one thing. Did he ever talk about me?"

Kylie rolled her eyes. "Only all the time."


"Yeah. He always said he loved you."

"You're kidding." Nora couldn't hide her skepticism. "He hardly ever said that to me. Not even when I said it first."

"It was like a ritual. Right after we had sex, he'd get all serious and say, This isn't about me not loving Nora." She uttered these words in a deep, manly voice, not at all like Doug's. "Sometimes I said it along with him. This isn't about me not loving Nora."

"Wow. You must've hated me."

"I didn't hate you," Kylie said. "I was just jealous."

"Jealous?" Nora tried to laugh, but the sound died in her throat. It had been a long time since she'd thought of herself as someone other people could be jealous of. "Why?"

"You had everything, you know? The husband, the house, those beautiful kids. All your friends and your nice clothes, the yoga and the vacations. And I couldn’t even make him forget you when he was in my bed."

Nora closed her eyes. Doug had been foggy in her mind for a long time, but all at once he was clear again. She could see him lying beside Kylie, naked and smug after fucking her, earnestly reminding her of his family commitments, his enduring love for his wife, letting her know that she could only have so much, and nothing more.

"He didn't care for me," Nora explained. "He just couldn’t stand to see you happy."
Whern your words are futile, you are better off keeping them to yourself, or never even thinking them in the first place.
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What would happen if The Rapture actually took place and millions of people just disappeared from the earth? How would normal people respond? The residents of Mapleton use a variety of coping mechanisms in this thought-provoking novel about love, connection, and loss.… (more)

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