Monday, November 16, 2009


Election, Tom Perrotta, G P Putnam's Sons, 1998, 200 pp

Election is somewhat of a cult book due to the 1999 movie, starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon. I came across mention of the movie a while back and decided to read the book first. It is Perrotta's second novel, his first being The Wishbones, a rock and roll novel on my TBR list. Besides, Perrotta was raised in New Jersey.

This novel is a spoof on high school: the students, the teachers, the sex and promiscuity, as well as the politics. My, my, things were comparatively tame in my high school years, though it is possible that I was just a tad naive. Now that I think of it, one of my best friends was having sex with her boyfriend, but we didn't talk about it.

The election process at Winwood High is supposed to educate the students in the ways of democracy. What makes the novel funny is that the students recreate all the worst aspects of American electoral politics, with teachers and parents giving plenty of help.

The writing is clever, tongue-in-cheek style, alternating between the first person voices of the three student candidates and the teacher who runs the election right into the ground, despite his high-minded intentions and because of his own low-minded issues. It is a light, fast read and owes a nod to the travails of good old Bill Clinton. I have a feeling the movie will be even better.

(Election is available in paperback by special order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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