Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bad book

I can count on one hand the number of novels I have started and chosen not to complete. There is a new one to add to the list, The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta. I've been listening to it on my iPod, a free download from It is being read by Campbell Scott. I cannot tell if the book is poorly written or poorly read. This is what I do know. The lead male character, a drug addict/rocker turned evangelical Christian has no clarity of conviction, and his ambivalence about his religiosity is not remotely convincing. The dialogue between characters is filled with liberal preachiness and insincere stereotypes. And it reads as if Perrotta's editor told him to fill the book with pop culture references that will play well in a screenplay; on the "printed page" (or orally presented "page") they are fatuous. Finally, Perrotta goes off on tangents that seem to have no relationship to the development of the plot or the characters.

I'm already in the third part of the book, and desperately want to be surprised by it. But, I don't think I have the patience to listen any longer so that I might learn if (a) the characters gain more depth, or (b) the plot turn is as unexpected as I hope or as predictable as I fear. Perhaps if I were reading this, rather than listening to it, I could skip the stupid parts and just skim to get the gist of the story? Or maybe the story is really what I think it is - a thinly veiled, one-dimensional diatribe about abstinence education, when in fact it could be a much more interesting and complicated book about authority, ambivalence, attraction, and redemption?

Anyone else read this book, who can convince me Perrotta was not phoning it in on this one?


On an unrelated note of irritation, the Starbucks in Nashua, NH might quite possibly be one of the worst I've been to.


Hey! This was my 100th episode of "The Collected Works of Clownface"! Woohoo! I'm a centennial blogger!


Susan P. said...

Hey Gretchen,
I read it - start to finish - and was completely UNinspired.
Not worth finishing.

Clownface said...

Aughh! I'm a weak human being. I did it, I listened to the entire book. And, it ended exactly as I suspected it would. Stupid, boring and boorish book!