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Aftermath of a great disappearance.
on September 10, 2011
Tom Perrotta's novel, "The Leftovers", is the story of a small town in New England, populated, at present, by those not chosen to vanish in a Rapture-like mass disappearance. The "Disappearance", as it was called world-round, sort of took people like a plague or a flu epidemic might - people here and there, and in some cases, almost full families. Those people "left over" cope with their continued existence on this earth in different ways. Some were disappointed they weren't taken - why weren't they "chosen"? - but most were glad to be left alive, even if they missed friends and relatives taken. Some can't cope with the guilt of being left while a sister, daughter, husband, etc were taken instead.
Perrotta opens his novel three years or so after the disappearance. Life has continued but most people are changed as they look around themselves and still miss their loved ones. Change has come by necessity to the small town of Mapleton. Kevin Garvey, a self-made millionaire has lost his wife, not to the Disappearance, but to her joining a cult-like group, the "Guilty Remnant" - a group dedicated to keeping the Disappearance in people's memory. His children have also drifted off to their own lives. But, besides the Garvey family, Perrotta introduces other characters in other situations, all whose lives intersect in some way. It's an interesting book, but strangely lacking in energy. The characters move with slowness as they try to reclaim their lives, or to make new ones. And that slowness is reflected in the writing style. I think Perrotta wrote this way on purpose and it is effective in a strange way. Somehow the writing matches the lives of the characters. "The Leftovers" is a good book that perhaps makes readers think about life after a tragedy.