March 2, 2002 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Tom Perrotta may be one of the best novelists working today, yet not that many folks know his name. His books and short stories portray prosaic suburbia accurately and without condescension, and he has uncanny insight into the mind of the terminally adolescent. Not to mention an uproarious sense of humor. If the films of Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater, the music of Weezer, or Pete Bagge's comics resonate with you, you may want to check out their literary equivalent. As an added treat, here's an audio link of Perrota reading his work. For my money, this guy is one of our best American writers right now, although you wouldn't know it.
posted by jonmc (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
He's good. Damn good. No question.

But not quite as good as Michael Chabon
posted by szg8 at 8:36 PM on March 2, 2002

You are exactly right, szg8, but then again, few young American writers are as good as Chabon. I read Perrotta's three novels last year and enjoyed all of them, but my favorite book in 2001 was the novel Sewer, Gas, & Electric (1997), by Matt Ruff.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:44 PM on March 2, 2002

Perrotta is overrated. Even more overrated than Chuck Palahniuck. Er, no, nevermind, I wouldn't go that far. Palahniuck writes wth the proficiency of an illiterate sponge.
posted by Fahrenheit at 11:28 PM on March 2, 2002

Excuse me, jonmc, this is just a test. Though I'm interested, by the way! My favourite writer is Elmore Leonard.
posted by Schweppes Girl at 11:35 PM on March 2, 2002

lelilo: Sewer, Gas & Electric was *so* fine and *so* off-the-wall that'll I'll probably have to read it a dozen more times to catch everything I missed.
Schweppes Girl: Hey, hiya! Pleased to meet ya!
posted by realjanetkagan at 12:04 AM on March 3, 2002

i don't want to sound like i'm offending anyone here. dammit, i know i'm going to.

anyone who thought the book election was of any worth beyond being the basis for a very good movie by alex payne obviously doesn't read much. i read it on its initial release (before the movie came out) and found it cardboard, boring, and predictable. the characters were stereotypes and failed to engage or intrigue, and the story was a hoary nest of cliches. this was one of the rare cases of a filmmaker adapting a mediocre-at-best book and improving upon it.

you want to talk good first novels? anyone here read bee season? much, much better.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:45 AM on March 3, 2002

Not a novelist, but worth every damn second it takes you to read his stuff is David Sedaris.
posted by szg8 at 8:48 AM on March 3, 2002

I agree that Election wasn't a great book or a particularly good movie, but Perrotta's other stuff is amazing. Bad Haircut: Stories from the 70's has one story called 13 which is one of the best examples of the form I've ever read. Joe College also does a great job of capturing the feeling of being in college and not knowing what the hell you're doing.
posted by jed at 9:50 AM on March 3, 2002

I read Bad Haircut a few years ago, and it more than outshines Election. Perotta is a rare talent.
posted by tomorama at 10:27 AM on March 3, 2002

Joe College also does a great job of capturing the feeling of being in college and not knowing what the hell you're doing.

Tell me about it, jed. The passage about highliters just about killed me. Election is my least favorite as well, although it is still good. The Wishbones, though is an absolute gem.

Hiya, schweppes girl. Miguel said to pick up cigars on the way home. ;)
posted by jonmc at 5:58 PM on March 3, 2002

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