Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Spectacular Now

I love New Adult books. If you don’t have the distinct pleasure of working in a library, allow Wikipedia to explain the genre. “The chief features that distinguish this category from Young-adult fiction are the perspective of the young protagonist and the scope of the protagonist's life experience. Perspective is gained as childhood innocence fades and life experience is gained, which brings insight. It is this insight which is lacking in traditional young-adult fiction”. Whatever that means.  As a great Supreme Court justice once remarked about pornography, “I know it when I see it”. And in Tim Tharp’s Spectacular Now, I see it. (New Adult fiction, that is. Not porn).

The Spectacular Now tells the story of high school senior, Sutter Keely, a young man whose taste for Seagrams 7 and insights on life are developed well beyond those of his teenage peers. Sutter is the guy you want at the party the night of, but don’t necessarily want to clean up after the next morning. Self-described as “God’s own drunk”, he sort of stumbles through life, narrowly skirting disaster, lying to himself and those around him, gathering a legion of admirers and adversaries along the way. What makes Tharp’s handling of Sutter’s story unique is the complete and total lack of a message. There’s no lesson to be learned here, kids;  no ominous warning about where he will end up ten or twenty years down the road because of his questionable choices. There is only The Spectacular Now. And for Sutter, that’s just fine.
Craving New Adult fiction the way Sutter craves a 7 and 7? Check out Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl or Attachments or Jamie McGuire's Beautiful Disaster. Hate reading? That's why they make movies! The Spectacular Now is also available on DVD from VBPL.

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