Tom Perrotta is the author of Bad Haircut, The Wishbones, Election, and Joe College. He lives in Belmont, Massachusetts.
Perrotta moves away from his lighthearted, humorous tales of New Jersey (Joe College; Election) with his latest novel, a penetrating and absorbing portrait of three suburban couples and their failed marriages. There's Sarah, who was a bisexual feminist in college but has now married Richard, 20 years her senior, to escape a dead-end job; Todd, a handsome, stay-at-home dad who can't bring himself to care about repeatedly failing the bar exam; and Larry, a former cop who retired at 33 after mistakenly killing a 13-year-old boy. All of their lives collide with unexpected consequences the summer a convicted child molester moves into the neighborhood. Sarah and Todd have an extended affair, and Larry becomes obsessed with harassing the sex offender, while Richard turns into a devoted member of the online "Slutty Kay" fan club. Perrotta's poignant and unflinching prose skillfully evokes both sympathy for his characters and disdain for the convenience they have chosen. Highly recommended.-Karen T. Bilton, Somerset Cty. Lib., Bridgewater, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The characters in this intelligent, absorbing tale of suburban angst are constrained and defined by their relationship to children. There's Sarah, an erstwhile bisexual feminist who finds herself an unhappy mother and wife to a branding consultant addicted to Internet porn. There's Todd, a handsome ex-jock and stay-at-home dad known to neighborhood housewives as the Prom King, who finds in house-husbandry and reveries about his teenage glory days a comforting alternative to his wife's demands that he pass the bar and get on with a law career. There's Mary Ann, an uptight supermom who schedules sex with her husband every Tuesday at nine and already has her well-drilled four-year-old on the inside track to Harvard. And there's Ronnie, a pedophile whose return from prison throws the school district into an uproar, and his mother, May, who still harbors hopes that her son will turn out well after all. In the midst of this universe of mild to fulminating family dysfunction, Sarah and Todd drift into an affair that recaptures the passion of adolescence, that fleeting liminal period of freedom and possibility between the dutiful rigidities of childhood and parenthood. Perrotta (Election; Joe College; etc.) views his characters with a funny, acute and sympathetic eye, using the well-observed antics of preschoolers as a telling backdrop to their parents' botched transitions into adulthood. Once again, he proves himself an expert at exploring the roiling psychological depths beneath the placid surface of suburbia. East Coast author tour. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"Little Children offers a generous serving of laugh-out-loud moments... Perrotta is an astute student of 21st-century suburban life. He skewers--with a light touch--everything from book clubs to personal ads to mothers worried about getting their 4-year-olds into Harvard. At the same time he locates the humanity in even the most repugnant characters. Perrotta knows the white-picket fence dream is just that. Life is disappointing, sure, but a little bit of breezily sardonic humor goes a long way to ease the pain." --USA Today
"The voice is so key to what's so good about the book...Little Children is certainly Perrotta's most ambitious book...it marks a leap for Perrotta, a suggestion that there may be bigger books inside him. It is also that rarity, a book that understands the mature wisdom of compromise without denying any of the accompanying melancholy." --Charlie Taylor, salon.com
"Perrotta isn't breaking new ground when he reveals that American suburbs are petri dishes of ennui and alienation. But the he shows admirable zeal in prosecuting the case, and he comes as close as anybody to answering a not unimportant question: If the suburbs are the perfect community, the incarnation in grass and sunlight of American affluence, then how come life there is such hell?" --Time Magazine
"In this satirical suburban novel...Perrotta's unsparing eye registers sullen teenage skateboarders, a vicious amateur football league and a women's book group discussing Madame Bovary over goat cheese and Chardonnay...readers will await the inevitable crash with horrified glee." --Newsweek Magazine
"The eponymous children in this satirical novel are actually adults who, chafing at the burdens of parenthood, try to re-create their unencumbered youth...The humor is sometimes cruel, but Perrotta never betrays the complexity of his characters." --The New Yorker
"Like the author's Election, this book tackles serious topics--like adultery and even pedophilia--with a surprisingly light tone." --US Weekly Magazine
"Big Important Book of the Month...Perrotta wisely refuses to condescend to the world he satirizes, and his masterful perspective provides the reader with a breezy omniscience over the character's failures in life. The book is disarmingly funny but rueful...the book's screenplay speed makes it infinitely readable. Little Children is a brave novel...engrossing, compassionate." --Esquire Magazine
"What a wicked joy it is to welcome Little Children, Tom Perrotta's extraordinary novel...a sterling comic contribution...raises the question of how a writer can be so entertainingly vicious and yet so full of fellow feeling. Bracingly tender moments stud Perrotta's satire...at once suspenseful, ruefully funny and ultimately generous...What is Tom Perrotta but an American Chekov whose characters even at their most ridiculous seem blessed and enobled by a luminous human aura?" --Will Blythe, New York Times Book Review
"Little Children will be Mr. Perrotta's breakthough popular hit...poignantly funny...What distinguishes it from run-of-the-mill suburban satire is its knowing blend of slyness and compassion." --Janet Maslin, New York Times Review
"The cast is so real that book groups will have a blast comparing people they know to the ones in the book. Perrotta is that rare writer equally gifted at drawing people's emotional maps...and creating sidesplitting scenes. Suburban comedies don't come any sharper." --People Magazine
"Tom Perrotta's Little Children made me laugh so hard I had to put it down...an effervescent new work...a gentle, sparkling satire." --Entertainment Weekly
"With Little Children Perrotta has moved into the suburbs with a wrecking ball. He has cooked up recipes of depravity that would curl Betty Crocker's hair. If good satire can generate a corrective jolt, this may be a deadly shock." --Christian Science Monitor
"Darkly comic, with a mischievous eye for absurd and intimate detail...a virtuoso set." --Washington Post Review
"With this, his fifth book, Tom Perrotta has to be considered one of our true genius satirists. Little Children is a great book. Hilarious (I haven't laughed out loud so much over a book in years) but also deeply compassionate and, at times, terrifying. It's both an indictment of, and an elegy to, that odd sociological construct known as suburban America. I was enthralled by every page, and damn if I didn't find myself wishing I'd written it." --Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River