Tom Perrotta

Postmodern Rapture – The Leftovers Episode Eight – Cairo

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Colton Royle

Every week Colton Royle discusses the newest episode of HBO’s new show about a new kind of rapture, The Leftovers. You can also read our review of the book the show is based on.

I want you to understand: spoilers.

Where do I start?

So if irony is the case where the viewer knows more than the characters, what is the opposite of that called? I’ll start there, because if once was bad enough, Kevin’s lapse of memory is awfully convenient for set pieces. But hey, the guardian angel character knows what happened right? Just in case the viewer is confused?

It’s like that moment when Jill and Aimee argue over whether Aimee had sex with Jill’s dad, and a whole bunch of sarcasm is used, and you still end up not knowing whether it actually happened. Even the twins afterward have a hard time proving or disproving it.

So here’s the problem: just because you use gaps in memory and divine coincidence and sarcasm to fill the cracks of plot with glue does not mean that anything is intact.

How about Liv Tyler? That opening shot with her beating the living tar out of Matt Jamison and her cussing the living daylights out of our ears was probably the nicest part of the episode. That was after the toneless introduction of Kevin and Patti arranging a table and room respectively. Great directorial transitions between the two, excellent lighting, beautiful music, and nothing to show for it. Sure you could claim some kind of parallels, but in hindsight it seems to be some bookend to her death in Kevin’s arms.

Yes, I’m aware also of the parallels between the knife in both Jill’s and Kevin’s hands, but I just care so little. It’s episode eight and Jill is still playing detective. I could say that Jill began the classic adulthood stage of paranoia, in which we all fit the massive amounts of information from Wikipedia into little stories we call our lives. I could say that, whether through divine assistance, or through radical will, Patti was not going to leave that cabin. I could say that perhaps Aimee has some serious family issues like Nora, considering we haven’t seen any of her family and we haven’t seen her leave Kevin and Jill’s house, and she got all shaky and hurt whenever Jill pushed her about “moving on.” But I’m not, because I am tired.

I definitely think this show is for somebody, like that somebody who watched Synecdoche, New York five times in a row and drooled on a clipboard. At least in this episode there were some interesting visual displays: zooming in on both Jill and Kevin’s faces, for example. But I am way too tired of being tugged around by plot. The plot is heavy and the characters are light and they all bow down to the mighty conflict. It’s like that aggressive coworker that explains their whole predicament only to push you verbally to say, “Okay, I’ll help you.”

I think The Leftovers is trying to create an overarching and powerful plot, while at the same time building the story on sand in order to prove that plots are futile, and I think they failed. It’s not like they didn’t work their asses off, it’s just that they didn’t commit to either. You’ve got Nora’s run-in with Wayne, Tommy’s highway stop with the bodies in which the view is “just like his dream.” Kevin’s father is telling him that his “services are needed.”

Yet Gladys gets murdered and we’re told that Patti and the gang killed her. And you realize that any dramatic emotion you had over Gladys was kind of bullshit, and you wonder why you bothered picking up the show in the first place. Or maybe that was their whole point?

Colton Royle is a reader of mostly American fiction and non-fiction. He is currently teaching in Fort Worth, Texas.

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Postmodern Rapture – The Leftovers Episode Seven – Solace for Tired Feet

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Colton Royle

Every week Colton Royle discusses the newest episode of HBO’s new show about a new kind of rapture, The Leftovers. You can also read our review of the book the show is based on.

Spoilers for Tired Feet

This show is constantly going to push you to wonder if it is worth your time. I don’t mean that in some grocery store aisle kind of way where you have some leftover (haha) cash and you can’t decide between Snickers and 3 Musketeers. What I mean is that the show in and of itself (yeah, I’m using that well-worn phrase) relies on you to provide its interpretation. Let me explain.

It’s not like we weren’t aware of how much the show brings up classic examples of religion only to shoot it down. Matt Jamison’s explanation getting trampled on by Kevin is just another example, but now they seem to trample on their own created religions. Wayne’s Asian franchises brings up the awkward chain of people in history that have claimed to be related to divinity, yet just like the factory scene from a couple episodes back, the one where they put together babies only to have one used as the baby Jesus, all of it is produced in assembly line ways. Wayne’s total awareness and Tom Garvey’s lack of awareness has us all awash with religious insecurity and bullet holes next to our twiddling thumbs.

Great metaphors and symbols for our modern times, right? Except that The Leftovers as a show has been created with little subtlety or regard for tone. Take the first scene in which we hear the all-male chorus chime in during the Guilty Remnant protest while Kevin gives up and turns away from pursuing his father. The easy question to ask is, “How did his father even escape?” but the real question is, “What is the purpose of the music and slowed footage?” The final shot of the three main women in the cult looking at Kevin had me baffled with what I was supposed to take away from that moment. Are we sad that he lost his father? Are we confident that Kevin is crazy and these ladies know it? Is all of it futile? The show never reveals its cards, expects you to play, but doesn’t even bother to explain the rules.

But hey, Nora and Kevin DID IT and boy was that great.

But let’s start to wrap this series up: this show is bad. Christine’s solo water birth notwithstanding, it’s going to take some incredible work to bring all of this back together. Who exactly is receiving the “solace” and who has the “tired feet?” Is it okay to realize only now the extent of Kevin’s medicinal addictions? Is it okay to show Jill a note that we don’t get to see, and then use it as dramatic collateral for a moment with a 1972 issue of National Geographic?

We’re all working too hard. Let’s use something simple. Liv Tyler comes in all hot and bothered by Nora and Kevin’s sexcapade, and she’s writing to Laurie that the dirty deed is being done, and Laurie writes back, “so?” And that is like EXACTLY how I feel. If the wife (ex-wife) doesn’t care, I sure as hell will not care. And she’s known him for years, and I’ve known him for like, what, seven weeks?

And all the while the show is encouraging you to build thematic structures of your own, and yea that’s a cool concept for middle school kids playing Minecraft, but it isn’t very inspiring here.

Colton Royle is a reader of mostly American fiction and non-fiction. He is currently teaching in Fort Worth, Texas.

Postmodern Rapture – The Leftovers Episode Six – Guest

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Colton Royle

Every week Colton Royle discusses the newest episode of HBO’s new show about a new kind of rapture, The Leftovers. You can also read our review of the book the show is based on.

Spoilers and such.

We get to see another possibly religious event collide with a secular result in this episode of The Leftovers, an episode with Nora kissing dead doppelgangers and stopping conspiracy theorists from taking her name and Wayne sucking the grief out of her AND Nora wanting to be shot in the chest with a gun while wearing a bulletproof vest AND seeing Kevin at the exact same time in court for the exact same reason, a divorce, AND featuring a question on the departed insurance form that gets a 100% response of “yes” until she is cured by Wayne.

All this roundabout summary is to say that The Leftovers is using a pretty big hammer all the time. Would Nora really kiss a constructed cadaver? Oh, she’s on a drug that’s “going to be FDA approved by October.” Many of the characters’ actions, like Jill’s Nerf fire arrow event and Kevin’s dog shooting, seem to be based on the words, “F#$% it.” If you were to really ask me to find the difference between Jill and Kevin, I would say apathy vs. depression. If you were to really ask me to find the difference between Nora and Kevin, I couldn’t tell you. Yet they create shamwow moments and claim it is character, and that’s textbook hitting the carnival hammer really hard. Kevin yells at dry cleaners. Jill steals Jesus. Preacher beats stealer. If The Leftovers wanted to satirize conventional plot, they can’t have this many signature moments and claim it is still coincidence. At some point, we know it’s a show, fellas.

And this review ends up being even more incoherent than the show. Remember when Nora held a dead grenade in her hands? Remember what was written on it? I sure as hell don’t. The sense of value when it comes to scenes is so frayed (what is more relevant, Wayne’s “I don’t give a shit comment,” or her healing Nora?). If it all matters it becomes paranoia. If none of it matters it’s irrelevant. “So, hey man, what’s your story?”

If it is a show attempting to explain modern living in this way, I think it’s going to ultimately fail. You can’t pull the rug out from somebody who wasn’t standing on it to begin with. And if you split the fan base into categories, are you really achieving anything different from Lost? I’m not looking for answers here, I mean I named my series Postmodern Rapture because I’m that guy. But what about questions? “If they get you to ask the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.”

And oh my God Nora and Kevin, just do it already. Put a couple intense scenes around their moments and it feels like Kevin should be pulling Nora’s hair in a game of tag at recess. Kevin says, “I’m a mess” and we’re all nodding our heads, but all for different reasons. I thought of “a hot mess express,” in case you were wondering.

But like, woah man, Wayne “heals” Nora into buying the right groceries, and she replaces the paper towels. It’s a great image, the towel stuff, but it kind of gets lost in the gray. Small tool-like style choices get marred by some “major” plot developments. Nora was compelling when she tipped the coffee cup and broke it because at least it was a small detail that had much larger ramifications, not to mention mystery. Here we have some pretty incredible events (spiritual healing, identity theft, WANTING TO GET SHOT IN THE CHEST WITH LOUD MUSIC ON) that are yes, mysterious, but ultimately boring.

You want to see fun suburban mayhem? Give it a shot.

Colton Royle is a reader of mostly American fiction and non-fiction. He is currently teaching in Fort Worth, Texas.

Postmodern Rapture – The Leftovers Episode Five – Gladys

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Colton Royle

Every week Colton Royle discusses the newest episode of HBO’s new show about a new kind of rapture, The Leftovers. You can also read our review of the book the show is based on.

Spoilers on this ride.

Alright, so another episode that starts violently and leaves the rest of our time this week in a slow grind. Gladys’s stoning could be viewed in religious terms with Matt Jamison’s of the Jesus and Thomas conversation. And there is some interesting play between fire, burning, Gladys’s cremation, and the conversation between Laurie and the Guilty Remnant leader over burning in reference to doubt. It’s more ambiguity, and that could be cool, someday.

But is anyone really surprised at the character shifts in this episode? Laurie doubles down in the cult, right after doubting everything, and this after divorce papers are presented. Matt tries harder to invade people’s lives. Liv Tyler decides to join, for real. And Kevin cries into a pillow after yet another existential night episode. It’s not like we weren’t prepared for this.

What we really weren’t prepared for was an offer for Kevin told over the phone to remove the Guilty Remnant from the face of the Earth. Kevin doesn’t talk much, but we can barely hear the other line. A show cannot have both sides of the call with neither making sense, and it played like a bad take. Don’t try good storytelling by making key information obscure.

Kind of like having someone writing, “Neill” on a “doggy bag” and placing it in front of a house without any foreshadowing or directorial stunt pilot maneuvers. I supposed we’re meant to wait until the big reveal episode some time later when we go, “Wow, I had no idea that was Neill,” but just leaving fragments of a story like batons to be picked up later is not a good way to write. In fact, whether it involves way-too-quick flashes in a psychologist session with Kevin, horrifically slow panic attacks with Laurie,  fire nerf gun peer pressures with Jill, or paper bags, most directorial moves on The Leftovers feels intense without earning it. People say things like that all the time, but I mean it: it’s literally impossible to feel their sadness. The people are gone, and it’s been three years.

Okay, so, real quick, more parallels to lack of family ties. Nora and Matt are obviously not having it. Kevin and Laurie getting a divorce, Liv Tyler belongs to no one, Jill will not hug her father while he is in post-drinking sad times. Gladys had no family to mourn for her violent death. Tommy’s phone got broke… I GET IT.

One thing I do enjoy is the occasional dark humor. Last time it was the twins’ funny Jesus drop off, while the alarm this time going off right when he got the phone call for the agent in Washington was a nice touch.

Maybe I’m missing the point, But when I see a sneak peek of the next episode and it involves Nora holding an armed grenade in public, I feel as though someone else missed it.

Colton Royle is a reader of mostly American fiction and non-fiction. He is currently teaching in Fort Worth, Texas.

Postmodern Rapture – The Leftovers Episode Four – B.J. and the A.C.

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Colton Royle

Every week Colton Royle discusses the newest episode of HBO’s new show about a new kind of rapture, The Leftovers. You can also read our review of the book the show is based on.

Many spoilers ahead.

One of the valid questions to ask The Leftovers is, “Will the show’s symbolism and larger themes be applicable beyond itself?” Will the show keep its Lost style of supernatural answers close? Or will it turn into something new?

The manufactured 20 inch baby introduction to the disappearance of the baby Jesus in the nativity scene is an incredible and haunting display of the attempts to continue games of standard Mapleton living. From Jill’s remark to her father about replacing Jesus as “cheating,” to the Guilty Remnant cult leader writing “There is no family,” to Tommy talking at his phone at the bus stop begging for a reason to protect Christine for Wayne, establishes a key point that just because characters decide to hold it together, it doesn’t mean things will turn out sane. Laurie wants a divorce. Kevin’s recovery of Jesus was blocked by Matt’s replacement. Tommy receives an automated message. “What is the right answer to that question?” Kevin asks Nora in the school hallway. Answers are only shortcuts to more questions.

However, there are some serious supernatural points that are beginning to cause throwaway lines like, “Just like in your dream” that ruin such indelible images like the manufactured cadavers on the road. What is also a parallel to the manufactured babies is also right here in manufactured people. I mean, that’s a good enough metaphor, just stick with it. The naked fight scene that ends with “I know what’s inside you,” is laughable. It’s hard to believe it’s happening in general, much less with a man naked only from the waist down.

Some things are relatively certain, or we hope to be certain: Nora and Kevin will have sex, and it’s going to be cynical and great.

But there is an overarching symphony that suggests a conductor, so to speak, and it’s happening too soon. Or is it? Is it okay to have a show throw both beginning narratives of characters and divine underpinnings simultaneously?

Take Jill for example: while she is trying to avoid every choice of the sacred and the profane in cult joining or God or shooting Jesus with a nerf gun on fire, she is untouched narratively, and has little character beyond a simple dry teenager who is aggressive with her elbows on the field. But because of Tommy’s burden he becomes a Lancelot upholding his vow to Wayne and Christine, and in a sense he has accepted being damned. Is it okay for the divine to supplement characters?

While I say all this, The Leftovers does an excellent job of displaying memories as gray and muddled things. We assume that Tommy was Kevin’s only to realize Laurie had another relationship before. Doug really did cheat on Nora. Kevin cheated on his wife. Between Matt’s paper and the Guilty Remnant’s theft of photographs, they are hammering down that history is a fool’s errand.

Maybe The Leftovers is striving to measure the limits of what it means to be human, and as characters discover each other they come to understand that those limits are felt now more than ever. From Garvey’s family to the manger, being human is beyond broken.

Colton Royle is a reader of mostly American fiction and non-fiction. He is currently teaching in Fort Worth, Texas.

Image: Mashable

Postmodern Rapture – The Leftovers Episode Three – Two Boats and a Helicopter

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Colton Royle

Every week Colton Royle discusses the newest episode of HBO’s new show about a new kind of rapture, The Leftovers. You can also read our review of the book the show is based on.

Many spoilers ahead.

The Leftovers stares religion in the face with the new episode focusing entirely on Matt Jamison, Mapleton’s minister, as he pushes the line between madness and divine power that arises as a theme once again. Where the previous two episodes have felt frayed at the edges and had us viewers grabbing for a metaphorical bucket dropping into a well, here was an episode that felt tight, feverish, and much more indicative thematically.

Matt Jamison preaching to a near empty church was an interesting and unexpected turn when you consider how much emphasis is placed on the rapture in Christian doctrine, and this brings up a theme of the episode which to me was ambiguity in suffering. I mean here is a guy who lost his congregation and now he’s gonna lose his church, and he can’t get the money from his sister and he eventually does get the money but he almost gets mugged and THEN he gets hit with a rock and misses the deadline and his wife is…I mean WTF, I don’t even know if I have a heart left after all these emotional stab wounds straight to it.

Three arrivals of the pigeons in key locations and colors for a massive gambling success only to have him miss the deadline to buy his church back by three days establishes the point Nora (his sister!?) makes that even with all the “good news,” or even divine help, does it make the situation of life, life in the modern world, any better? To me, The Leftovers is starting to make some massive questions very concrete in this episode, and even the varied tones in which they depicted Matt, from beautiful and serene during the baptism scene, to his eventual nightmare in the hospital and his jagged anger in chiaroscuro lighting, leads us to question each of these characters in multiple settings. It’s not simply binary; it’s not just this and that, but rather a polyphony of reactions.

All this I say, yet when the Guilty Remnants buy Matt’s church, it builds a rage in Jamison that is building all through Mapleton that is very much an “us and them” story. Will it turn violent for the cult? Tethered to all this melancholy and hysteria is this building desire from the citizens for all of post-departed life to mean something more, and with that comes “responsibility” and “retribution” and “redemption” and a bunch of other five dollar words to say that these people want it to matter. So while The Leftovers builds ambiguity and uncertainty, it also meddles with characters who are trying to push against it. Case in point, when asked “what denomination?” in reference to casino chips and Matt (the minister) replies, “does it matter?” we start nodding and going, “okay now I get it.”

This is interesting. It’s interesting to me because at the heart of it is storytelling in general and what television takes for granted in particular and the friction between plot development and real life coming to a head could lead to some super interesting and way too academic analyses (see previous 507 words).

But really this episode was gripping and really hurt and had some more reveals (“Roy, you deserve this” –K.G.) that will make you butt-bump up and down on the couch and clap. You want to see other people (not just us) try and make sense of life in erratic and strange ways? Follow follow follow follow…

Colton Royle is a reader of mostly American fiction and non-fiction. He is currently teaching in Fort Worth, Texas.

Postmodern Rapture – The Leftovers Episode Two – Penguin One, Us Zero

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Colton Royle

Every Tuesday Colton Royle discusses the newest episode of HBO’s new show about a new kind of rapture, The Leftovers. Since two episodes have already aired, we covered episode one on Friday and here is episode two. You can also read our review of the book the show is based on.

To repeat, massive spoilers ahead.

I cannot believe I’m saying this: there are too many guns. Already in episode two a SWAT team is getting sent into Wayne’s establishment to rob so many Asian girls it’s comical. This action that happens way too soon gets multiplied by Tom “saving” Christine by killing with a gunshot to the neck. Yes, I’m enjoying the parallels to his father, Kevin’s, shooting of the dogs last episode, and yes, we’re debating whether the identities created so far are because of the massive departed, or whether the personality was something there all along, but it’s too much too fast. The violence left the rest of the episode in a fog.

More questions of identity: Kevin Garvey’s mental disturbances mimic the continued parallel to the supernatural plot developments of Stephen King’s The Stand and Under the Dome, and we’re unaware if it is truly madness or divine intervention, which is so 15th Century. It has that Lost feel to it that makes me want to bite down on live electrical wire.

The quick edits to the dog shooting during the therapy session were too quick and not subtle and loud and just…etc.

Kevin’s “Investigation of the Missing Bagels,” felt like a Blue’s Clues episode, but this combined with questioning the shooter’s existence to his father’s schizophrenia was layered extremely well, and featured that adult paranoia that seems to be building in Mapleton.

Yet Jill observing Nora purposely break the coffee mug to get out of paying for her breakfast was easily the most engaging moment in the episode. Is she using her tragic story for profit? Is she simply playing around with suburban niceties? This coincides with her role in “departed insurance” which is literally profit made on the disappearance three years ago.

Jill is at a crossroads, and is the last Garvey to commit to any kind of altered behavior post-disappearance. Playing detective with both the dead dog last episode and Nora this episode has her seeing all the avenues. Again: so much identity.

Meg Abbott swinging an axe is one of those odd totally-a-cult procedures that gets remarked on by Laurie Garvey as “not a cult,” and this is a problem. It’s a problem when handwriting is with blue ink on little white notepads that make us feel like we’re teaching the sixth grade because we’re squinting at the screen. It’s a problem when dialogue moves fast and handwriting and reading don’t. There are some major complexities with the Guilty Remnants that are going to be missed or incorrectly assumed or told without elegance.

Tom’s repeated yelling from underwater last episode to above water this episode was an excellent progression of the suffering that Wayne says he wants, “without salvation,” and perhaps Tom assumes in some way that he is already damned.

Will Kevin uncover the truth about his supposedly “sent” friend? Will Jill and Aimee steal more stale gummy bears? Is Christine really everything? Will Liv Tyler build a log cabin? We’ll let Wayne decide.

Colton Royle is a reader of mostly American fiction and non-fiction. He is currently teaching in Fort Worth, Texas.

Image: The Daily Mail

Postmodern Rapture – The Leftovers Series Premiere

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Every Tuesday Colton Royle discusses the newest episode of HBO’s new show about a new kind of rapture, The Leftovers. Since two episodes have already aired, episode one is covered today, episode two will be covered on Monday, and we’ll be caught up by Tuesday. You can also read our review of the book the show is based on.

Colton Royle

We all remember the 1990s and Kirk Cameron, but it’s a new decade, and The Leftovers, an HBO series based on the novel of the same name by Tom Perotta, hopes to avoid any religious dogma while presenting moral aspirations of its very own. The story mostly follows the Garvey family in the suburban and affluent Mapleton, and it has been three years after a rapture-like disappearance of two percent of the world population by unknown causes. “Gary fuckin’ Busey,” a bartender says before turning the volume down, an almost overused reminder in the first episode that there was no motivation or criteria. Mapleton remembers October 14 as “Hero’s Day” and holds a parade to honor the ones that have gone. It is a world of letters with no signatures, and little to no hope of anything near redemption.

The following contains spoilers.

And yet, even with Kevin Garney, police officer and existential night runner, as he punches a photograph of his wife on the wall, even with the students burying a dog and lamenting, “I’m sorry you had to go through this,” and the stale parallels in that, the story is already heading towards some Stephen King style good vs. evil conflict a la The Stand and Under the Dome. Not one but three cults have emerged from the mess of disappearances, each with their own reasoning for the event. The Garney family itself is as fractured as the town, with the father coping with his own wife, in a twist, not as one of those vanished, but a member of the silent-and-chain-smoking-and-traveling-in-pairs Guilty Remnants. Kevin’s son Tom attempts a relationship with a young Asian woman who is under the watchful eye of Wayne, a leader for the second cult, as he holds his eyes open just a little too wide and intimidates with knife moves. And the daughter, who floats in anti-paranoia for as long as possible, gets high on-campus and elbows girls in field hockey.

I myself am stumped by my reactions: do I want a supernatural show to commit to a linear progression of understanding? Because I seem also to enjoy, only slightly, the sheer noise of responses, the entropy of anger. Even the parallel structure with Kevin Garney and his run-in with the dog killer, from hatred for killing animals, to his changeover to shooting the dogs with a gun of his own, the symbolism oversaturated, at least was somewhat intriguing. They showed a lot and told a little, which is a good start, but it will face difficulties in tone and therefore audience if it is continued. “They’re not our dogs anymore,” the hunter says, and while that is true for the town of Mapleton, so far, it is also a question in the air for the entire show. Who will The Leftovers belong to?

Colton Royle is a reader of mostly American fiction and non-fiction. He is currently teaching in Fort Worth, Texas.

Book Review: Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers

The Leftovers

Jonathan May

I finished this novel recently, and my friend J—– informed me that it would be released this summer on HBO as a miniseries. My first question was How? But the more I think about it, my real question is Why?

The Leftovers takes as its main device the Biblical rapture, wherein the elect are called to Heaven, leaving those on Earth to repent or suffer. Within the first five pages, the religious aspect of the rapture has fallen to the wayside; just any people, regardless of character or religious affiliation, are taken. It seems God wasn’t so picky after all, if God is indeed to blame. The novel, pointedly it seems, lets blame rest on the self-conscious shoulders of the citizens of Mapleton, a Blue Velvet-esque town name if there ever was one. We focus mostly, in close third, on the newly elected mayor, an affable, forgettable character named Kevin Garvey. He tries to help his fellow citizens deal with the weirdness of it all, having lost none of his family in the “taking.” However, as people start to deal with the event by forming cultish groups, Kevin loses family along the way.

We’re in and out of his wife Laurie’s mind as well; she ultimately leaves him to join the Guilty Remnant, a chain-smoking silent group dedicated to asceticism, silence, and a mission. Smoking and in pairs, they rove the country, making sure no one forgets what has happened, and that the final reckoning is yet to come. The idea of silence is powerful within the novel; people literally vanished without a bang, without an inkling of anything. And so the silence must continue for some. Laurie as a character is very strong, but her intentions aren’t. Why does she join the group? Is it guilt, or something else? I feel like we never know.

This novel, like many of Perrotta’s others (Little Children, The Abstinence Teacher), dwells superbly within the contemporary suburban mind. He highlights deftly the quotidian and how necessary it is. But what the novel fails to do is provide us any sense of resolution; in fact, the way the novel ends (I won’t spoil it) actively works against resolution, forcing the reader to construct a possible ending. I found this cheap and flabby, as far as fiction goes. I would rather be pointed to a moral certainty about the work, even if it ends up being about amorality. Instead, we’re given some kind of Inception-like wishy-washy, choose-your-own-path scene that simply stops.

The writing is strongest when we’re bouncing around from character to character, and I wish there had been more of that. Since we settle on Kevin most often, his portions should have been the most arresting, but we’re given clichés like, “There was always that little secret between them, the memory of a summer night, the awareness of a road not taken.” I almost put the book down there, but my curiosity about what would happen to Laurie, the daughter Jill, and a certain unborn child who is introduced early on drove me to finish it.

I have no idea how this will translate to film; to build toward such a nothing of an ending seems like an incredible waste of time and money. But who knows? Maybe HBO will give some resolution where there was none.

You can listen to a sample from the audiobook of The Leftovers from Macmillan Audio here:

Jonathan May watches too much television, but he’s just playing catch-up from a childhood spent in Zimbabwe. You can read his poetry at owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at owen.may@gmail.com.

Image source: io9