Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The movie might be better.

Book: Election

Author: Tom Perrotta

Published: Damn. I don’t know.

Pages: 200

Well, that was sort of shitty.

I’ve wanted to read Election for awhile, ever since I heard about the movie version and how good it’s supposed to be. Of course my first instinct was to think “I bet the book’s better” and then avoid both until I saw the book in a secondhand store and sat down to read the whole thing during the four hours I thought I had work which is actually tomorrow but I was already out and what the hell, home didn’t expect me back until 5 p.m.

This story’s concept is interesting and has a lot of natural dramatic potential. A well-liked high school teacher throws away two ballots to let his favorite student candidate win the election for school president. The story unfolds from all the major character’s perspectives, in clumps that were nicely organized by person but too short to allow any real characterization growth. (The janitor who finds the thrown-away ballots is more effective in his two or three paragraphs than the other characters who’ve had the whole book to stretch out.)

But Perrotta once again disappointed me with his lack of depth and subtle details that would’ve made everything way more dynamic. His Little Children is like this, too, another tension-filled conceit fumbled through flat characters and an environment just a little too generic to care about. And in both books, the characters are largely defined through badly timed sex with the wrong people.

That last would be a good thing, except it’s both non-explicit and has nothing to do with advancing the main plot. I require at least one kind of cheap thrills from marginal writing.

Sigh. Maybe the movie’s better. (Books, you make me sad when you make me say that.)  

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