Notwithstanding the rather snappy passage above, Perrotta's writing is predominantly quiet, clean, and low-profile. His pacing is nicely measured.
Schematically illustrative of a real division in contemporary American culture, this is solid, mainstream fiction. Few sentences are likely to send readers lunging for their pencils, eager to underscore profundities or poetic observations. Professional but innocuous, the prose is just shy of middle-brow.
This borderline middle-brow designation is not merely a matter of style. There is a mildness to this novel that belies the gravity of the stakes here, and the scale of mutual enmity between America's Christian Right and those who oppose them.
Concentrating on the budding romance between Tim and Ruth, and Tim's battle with the temptations of his indulgent past, the plot fails to endow the instalment of an abstinence-only curriculum with any consequences.
No teenagers get pregnant because they don't know how to get access to contraception; no one contracts HIV in the absence of instruction about condoms; none of the girls are well on their way to infertility because they've never heard of chlamydia.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
The borderline middle-brow designation
Lionel Shriver's criticism is always worth reading: she doesn't mince words.... In the Telegraph this week, she skewers Tom Perrotta--whose fiction I have not read, it is entirely possible that this characterization is quite unfair, but I still rather love what she has to say on a topic that is close to my heart, the middle-brow: