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abookaweek 2012: week eight

2012 February 26

Bad Haircut, by Tom Perrotta

Category: Short stories

Story: These stories all feature the same protagonist, a boy named Buddy. We follow him as he goes through adolescence in 1970’s America. Think Freaks and Geeks but not as funny.

Opinion: I picked this up in the UK last October when I had just finished reading Perrotta’s The Leftovers and saw this at a shop for £2.

I know I shouldn’t place too much importance on blurbs, but the ones on this particular cover really make me doubt my reading skills. Did I miss some blatantly obvious quality that takes this book from good to “more powerful than any coming-of-age novel I’ve read” (Washington Post)? Without a doubt I am a J.D. Salinger fan-girl, but there is simply no way this book is better than Catcher in the Rye, for instance.

But it’s a funny book, and it succeeds at painting a vivid image of a small American town in the seventies, which is probably one of my favorite settings for books and films. I also really liked the idea of following this boy as he grows up, but having it split up into fragments. However I think that’s where it fails as a Bildungsroman; the gaps in between the stories are too long to let you follow the protagonist as he matures.

I think mostly I’m just disappointed that this doesn’t live up to The Leftovers.

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