Saturday, November 29, 2014

As Seen on TV--If You Watch TV

When I get book recommendations from my younger son, I pay attention. He hasn't always been a big reader, but he often finds books through television series and films.  During Dick's hospital stay, even though I had other books I might have read, I decided to try his suggestion first--Tom Perrotta's The Leftovers, which has been made into a series somewhere on television.  The story begins shortly after a strange worldwide occurrence in which people randomly vanished.  Some believe the Rapture has occurred, while others can't believe this could be true in light of some of the people who were taken and some who were (to borrow the phrase) "left behind."

The story is primarily centered in Mapleton, a small American town, where lives intertwine.  Cults have emerged, drawing in a variety of people--a mother who lost her daughter, her best friend who leaves behind a family intact. A self-proclaimed religious leader draws followers until his own ego and desires bring about his downfall. A woman whose whole family disappeared becomes something of a martyr--until her husband's infidelity emerges.

A reviewer for Chicago Sun-Times compared the story to "Our Town" and someone in Entertainment Weekly called it the "best book about The Rapture since the New Testament."  I kept thinking of Karen Thompson Walker's young adult novel Age of Miracles, a story of an inexplicable "slowing" of the world's turning, affecting all human life.

Since the series is still running, I don't want to reveal any spoilers, but this book is an interesting treatment of an idea that keeps making the literary rounds--maybe even all literature:  Something happens.  Now what do we do?


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