What do you think would happen if the world saw the disappearance of thousands of its citizens? That’s right – one moment your family is eating turkey dinner, then you go out to the kitchen to get more gravy and, poof! you come back and they’re all gone. What do you do?
This is the question posed by Tom Perrotta in his new novel, The Leftovers. People all over the world have disappeared. The citizens of Mapleton, three years after the event, are still struggling to make sense of it all, and our main characters do this in many ways. Kevin, the local Mayor, tries to keep an even keel and is ever hopeful (baseball will help) – in order to keep himself and his townsfolk from losing it.
His wife Laurie, who has lost her best friend, has joined a cult called the Guilty Remnant – they wear white, smoke cigarettes and stalk members of the community to remind them of what is to come – and they do it silently as they have given up talking. Kevin’s daughter has derailed from the good girl A-student to a loose mess. His son has joined up with Holy Wayne, a sham of a prophet, and so too does his life turn upside down.
And then there’s Nora. She’s lost her husband and children – everyone gone. How do you face each day knowing that everyone you love(d) is missing – that the emptiness you feel is a permanent hole in your being. Try watching SpongeBob SquarePants?
I enjoyed this book for its depth of feeling and especially the bizarre reality of it; is this the Rapture or, as they call it, the Sudden Departure – and are they next? And how do you keep moving forward when life has completely changed? It’s a close look at families, friends and relationships and includes some truly funny moments (“I already gave up booze and sex, I’ll be damned if I’m gonna give up breakfast”). It’s one of those books you will read and remember because it makes you think.
Perrotta is the author of the Little Children and Election; it won’t be long until The Leftovers appears on HBO.
Next month, the long-running Organic Gardening magazine will be celebrating its 70th anniversary.
Yep, that’s right … Organic Gardening was not the by-product of hippies and communes after all, but instead, was a pioneering sustainable living publication dating back to the Second World War when Victory Gardens could be found all over North America and in the United Kingdom.
Organic Gardening was founded by the late J. I. Rodale who, as a well as being an organic farmer, was the founder of the publishing company Rodale, Inc. (since 1930, originally as Rodale Press) and the Rodale Institute (since 1947); he also wrote prolifically on numerous subjects.
Commemorate Earth Day by having a gander at the first issue ever (May 1942) of what was then known as Organic Farming and Gardening. Then, come by the library to check out how far this hallowed herald of holism (not bad, huh?) has come.
Happy Earth Day!
There are so many things you can say about this novel. But for me, it was a book about “what lies beneath”, not only in the characters but also in the land that Jane Smiley writes so passionately about. This book won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize and is said to be a modern version of King Lear. I would never have known that, never having read the play, but I’m sure the Bard himself would have loved this book.
It starts out as a story about a farming family – one that has been on its rich and arable thousand acres for four generations. The story is told by Ginny, the oldest daughter. She has two younger sisters, Rose and Caroline. Everything seems fairly normal until Larry Cook, the head of this “dynasty” decides to give up the farm to his daughters – with no real explanation. The youngest daughter, a lawyer who lives in the City, objects to this and is cut out of the deal. That’s when what lies beneath starts to bubble to the surface.
We know that Ginny cannot have children, and she learns that it may have to do with the water under the soil. Larry starts acting very strangely, so much so that he leaves his home on the farm and goes to live with another farmer. Rose, who is recovering from cancer, starts reminding Ginny of what they went through as children; Ginny’s suppressed memories flood back and suddenly her world starts to unravel. And as this happens, so does the farm, which has been the center of their world.
I would never have guessed how the novel ends, given its beginning. By half way through, I could hardly stop reading. The book was made into a movie in 1997 but read the book first – it is just brilliant.
You’re comments are welcome.
Happy Easter Weekend from all of us good eggs at
I Was Told There’d Be Cake!