Monday, October 29, 2007

Balancing the right

The religious right, that is. Tom Perrotta's The Abstinence Teacher is a very interesting look at what happens when liberals clash with Christian conservatives, and also what happens when being "born again" doesn't quite stick. The character of Tim is an intriguing mix of pothead-meets-evangelist, and you can imagine how well that's going for him. I'm not sure whether Tim is meant to show that not all Christian conservatives are extremists or just that when normal people mix with extremists, it doesn't work so well. Ruth, on the other hand, is a standard liberal single mom, nothing so novel there. Her career is more interesting -- she was forced to switch her teaching from sex ed to an abstinence-only curriculum (the most useless coursework ever invented, but that's another rant).

I find I can read Perrotta's books very quickly, though they are far from mindless. There were so many characters in this one that I'm not totally sure they were all completely fleshed out. Ruth's daughters' actions, for example, seemed rather random -- the motivation was never totally clear. Nonetheless, the story is compelling while the writing remains intelligent.

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