Kind of like Oprah, I thought I’d start my own book club. Kind of not like Oprah, I’m the only person in my book club, which is kind of better, in a way, in that I don’t have to sift through half-assed posts about the novel or some irrelevant theories with no substantial textual evidence.
Anyway, the first book I chose was Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers, a five-part drama set in the small community of Mapleton, after a Rapture-like event causes the disappearance of millions of people worldwide. Quite simply put, the citizens feel like nothing but leftovers from this (un)godly act – idly waiting to be plucked from the fridge and finished off like the rest of the people from the previous meal.
The novel is something of a surreal feat; a dystopian society that seemed to only hiccup on October 14th as family and friends disappeared before their loved-ones’ eyes.
Perrotta sets his book three years after what has been deemed “The Sudden Departure,” and the world is still not quite back to its old self. Sure, Congress is still in session and the MLB is back in full swing (pun intended), filling the holes in their line-ups with minor leaguers and retired all-stars, but the people are still grasping for answers.
At the center of the story lies the Garvey family. Kevin, the town’s mayor, is left to care for his bright, but troubled daughter, Jill, when his wife, Laurie, joins the Guilty Remnant – a cult draped in white that takes a Vow of Silence in forgiveness for not being taken on October 14th. Kevin’s son, Tom, has discontinued his studies at Syracuse University to follow the Holy Wayne, a sweet-talking figurehead of the Healing Huggers. Soon, Wayne is arrested and Tom is entrusted with one of his many under-aged wives; one of them, Wayne preaches, will birth the Miracle Child that will save all of humanity.
Another figure in the town is Nora Durst, also known as The Woman Who Lost Everything, whose husband and two children were victims of The Sudden Departure. Nora struggles to find meaning in life, while trying not to feed into the town’s pity for her. Oddly enough, she finds peace in religiously watching and re-watching episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants and documenting the deeper meanings on a notepad.
While this novel doesn’t have the suspenseful elements of a thriller or a traditional rising action/climax/resolution format, I still found it to be quite the page-turner. I would best describe it as a psychological character study – and a pretty accurate one at that – of how people would react to the disappearance of millions around the world.
Now, you may be thinking, “Rob, I thought this was a TV blog. What gives?” And, my response would be that HBO has picked up the pilot. It’s writer and executive producer? Lost and Star Trek writer/producer Damon Lindelof. Needless to say, I am beyond excited for how the show (or movie/mini-series) will pan out.
So far, the casting is scattered and uncertain. Justin Theroux (American Psycho) will be playing Kevin Garvey, Broadway star Carrie Coon will play Nora Durst, and Liv Tyler (Lord of the Rings Trilogy) will play Meg, a beautiful, yet timid Trainee for the Guilty Remnant.
The release date will hopefully be sometime in 2014, which gives you ample time to be a hipster and read the book first!