On Tom Perrotta's New Novel, With a Warning About the Last

So in today’s New York Times Book Review Stephen King reviews Tom Perrotta’s new novel, The Leftovers, and has this to say:
“Perrotta began his exploration of the stress points between religion and secular American life in his previous novel, “The Abstinence Teacher.” “The Leftovers” feels like a logical, if extreme, extension of those concerns. Not every character and motivation rings perfectly true (Laurie’s conversion to the Guilty Remnant is especially troubling, since she is one of the fortunate Mapletonians not to have lost a family member), but the slow, sad drift of this suburban world into various forms of cultic extremism as a response to upheaval feels spot on.”
Perrotta wrote the novel Little Children (2004) that was made into the good film starring Kate Winslet, which I thought was terrific—the film; I bought the book and then decided not to bother reading it. Why? Believing Perrotta’s fiction must be good based on that film (a mistake), I assigned The Abstinence Teacher (2007), which was his new book at the time, to a writing class, before having read it. (I like to be up-to-date in my readings, and sometimes this backfires.) It proceeded to be something of a disaster. The students hated it. It was so bad I had to apologize for assigning it—the first and only time that’s happened, I think. It was a strange experience.

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