September 23, 2013
The Spectacular Now
First sentence: "So, it's a little before ten a.m. and I'm just starting to get a good buzz going."
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I want to start this with: "Sutter Keely is an alcoholic." Because, by saying he's the "life of the party" (which is true) or "running away from his problems" (which is also true) seems to underscore the gravity of the problem. Sutter drinks -- whisky, mostly -- all. the. time. He can't function without alcohol in his system. And it's going to be his downfall.
Or, at least at the start of the book, that's what you think. His "beautiful fat" girlfriend, Cassidy, breaks up with him (no surprise; Sutter can't keep a girlfriend) and he wakes up with a hangover on some girl's -- Aimee's, as it turns out -- front lawn. Here's his chance at redemption: he's going to take this socially awkward girl under his wing and reform her.
Except, he doesn't. Sure, he shows her acceptance and she shows him love, but in the end there is no Defining Moment (though Tharp came close a couple of times), no Growth, no, well, nothing. And in the moment of reading, I was royally pissed at that. I don't care if I don't like a character (Sutter was bordering on destructive, and my mom-instincts -- yes, they are kind of like a Spidey-sense -- kicked in), I want there to be some sort of growth arc, some sort of conflict and resolution. But for Sutter, he was his own conflict, and there was no resolution. Sitting back after a couple of days, I can see how a firm resolution fits Sutter's character: he's all Live In The Now, which I thought was very Dude of him at first, but after a while just seemed a pathetic excuse not to do anything. There's no growth arc because Sutter is beyond growing, and it's not just because he lives in the now and embraces the weird. It's not deep, though, it's just lame.
And Aimee? While I'm not sure I wanted her to be Strong and Rescue Sutter, I did want something more from her than to roll over (literally sometimes) and let Sutter have his way. Perhaps it's because she's emotionally abused, perhaps it's because she's shy, but she was beyond pathetic as a character. And that's just sad.
So, I'm not quite sure what to think of this one. It had the potential to be brilliant, but only ended up as kind of meh.