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Election Paperback – Bargain Price, October 1, 1998

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Paperback, Bargain Price, October 1, 1998
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Editorial Reviews Review

Tom Perrotta is a remarkably astute observer and writer of the adolescent experience. His Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies is a delightful collection of coming-of-age stories, which give insight into the joys and agonies of adolescence. In Perrotta's first full-length novel The Wishbones, a 31-year-old musician can't quite cope with the responsibilities of adulthood and instead lives an extended adolescence. Perrotta's much-anticipated second novel Election again successfully ventures into the adolescent psyche.

The book is set in a New Jersey high school amidst a hotbed of political activity: students are voting for their school president. Perrotta's cast of characters are exaggerated but convincing. They convey adolescence as it often is--sometimes painful and frequently awkward. Tracy is the popular girl, smart and pretty, but she isn't quite as perfect as her classmates assume. A sordid affair with a teacher lurks in the shadows. Paul is the jovial football jock, but his parent's divorce has left him hurt and vulnerable. Then there is Paul's younger and geekier sister Tammy, the tormented underdog struggling with her sexuality. Plot develops through a series of mini-chapters, narrated by the main protagonists. There are also frequent interjections from Mr. M, the all-around good teacher every kid loves--the kind of teacher Hollywood loves to enshrine in sentimental flicks. A genuine crescendo of excitement and anticipation consumes the reader, as we eagerly await who has won the election. This is a novel of teenagers on the brink of adulthood, and is probably best appreciated by grownups with enough perspective on their own adolescent experiences to be able to take the bitter with the sweet. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A far cry from Sweet Valley High, this wry, engaging story of a 1992 high-school election in a New Jersey town "a couple of exits" away from Glen Ridge is observant and sly, if less amusing than the battles over pop-musical taste in Perrotta's quirkily humorous first novel, The Wishbones. The candidates for school presidency of Winwood High are an uninspiring bunch campaigning for what almost everybody knows is an empty office. Ambitious Tracy Flick is a hot bundle of raw political ambition and a bad reputation, who campaigns with cupcakes against Paul Warren, a jock with a pretty face and high PSAT scores who is urged to run by his history teacher (and sometime narrator) Jim McAllister. Paul's nihilistic sister Tammy (who enters the race in a despairing rage because she's in love with Paul's girlfriend) is the single fresh and original character here?and she gets herself suspended before Election Day. The results are blessedly far from feel-good, and Perrotta casts a wonderfully cool eye on his ostensible protagonist, "Mr. M.," even if the hints of true political satire remain just that, tantalizing hints. Despite six alternating narrators, this is a simple, spare story?designed, perhaps, with moviegoers in mind as well as readers. (Mar.) FYI: A movie version already is in production with MTV Films/Paramount, featuring Matthew Broderick as McAllister.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; First Printing edition (October 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425167283
  • ASIN: B001R23FSE
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,822,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have to admit, I saw the movie first. At the suggestion of this page I also read "Bad Haircut" before reading "Election". "Bad Haircut" was good, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I was a guy.
Anyway, the book fills in a blank spots that abound in the movie. It incorporates current events that occurred around the time the book was written. The reactions of the characters to this and each other makes them three-dimensional. You feel like they could've gone to your school. While the film focused mostly on the character of Mr. M, the lovable civics teacher, the book offers more monologues from more characters. Tracy Flick is given more of a chance to explain herself and is viewed less as a villain, and more as a normal person.
If I haven't sold you yet, read the book for this one reason: IT HAS A BETTER ENDING!!!!!
(Theres a reason why Tom Perotta teaches writing at Harvard!!!!!)
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an entertaining light book that could have been better. The problem? The book does not adequately explain the motives of the high school teacher who tries to steal an election from overachiever Tracy Flick. (The book is set in Tom Perrotta's favored region of New Jersey.) The movie adaptation (with Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon) portrays more fully developed characters, allowing one to feel and believe their emotions. However, the book is better than the movie in some respects. Paul Warren, Tracy's main electoral rival, is much more perceptive, and--well--smarter, than the one-dimensional nick jock in the movie. His first-person narration is closest to the author's point of view, and it's a very effective portrayal. Tracy Flick comes off as more sympathetic, although a little more self-aware too.
Paul and Tracy represent high school archetypes; Paul's sister, outsider Tammy (so vividly portrayed in the film) is not as bouyant here and her relationships not highlighted as well. Still, the rapid switches between different first person accounts of chronologically overlapping scenes make this a Rashomen-lite narrative that is fast, light, and often funny.
The main problem is "Mr. M.," the high school teacher who attempts to rig the election against Tracy. We don't see the burn out, the conflicts between idealism and cynicism, and, especially, the self-loathing that Broderick (and the screenplay) brought to the film. Because of this somewhat superficial treatment, his behavior is never provided the context or motivation to fully realize the tragi-comical themes underlying the humor and irony so effectively portrayed in the film. Still, a quick fun read.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mike Stone on June 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
The back cover of this edition of "Election" makes the following claims: Tracy Flick, prospective President of Winwood High, is the kind of girl who "edits the yearbook [and] star[s] in the musical"; Paul Warren, likable jock, is so dim he's described as "not sure what's going on"; and the election at the high school is fraught with "sex scandals, smear campaigns, and behind-the-scene power brokers". I mention this, because, curiously, none of these things are found in the book. Oh sure, they could be. Maybe in the in-between scenes, the one that author Tom Perrotta doesn't actually write, but that's reading a little too much into the book's subtext. Either that, or an overworked copywriter never read the book, but rented the movie instead.
This is one of those rare occasions where the movie is more fleshed-out than the book. At a scant 200 pages (it can't be more than 40,000 words long; the slowest of readers could polish it off in a couple of hours), I found myself waiting for favourite scenes from the movie to pop up in prose form. Can you believe that Mr. McAllister doesn't even get stung by a bee in the book? For shame! I know, I know, you can't blame Perrotta for any of this; he wrote the book he wrote and he can't change it now for an audience familiar with the story in another medium. They might be disappointed by the omissions, but I wasn't.
While the book rarely gives more than a preliminary expository sketch of its characters, Perrotta is smart enough to allow self-definition through their actions and their speech. Which any good book should be doing anyway. Listen to the way these kids talk. Paul describes his girlfriend Lisa as: "sarcastic-looking." It's a phrase that means nothing, but somehow I can picture her.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By belladena on April 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
I finished this book last night and, for close to ten minutes, sat with it in my hands, utterly stunned and delighted by Tom Perrotta's narrative.
On the surface, "Election" seems just another tribute to Generation-X, broken families, and the classically icky tale of the over-achiever you knew in high school. However, what unfolds in this slim volume is a seamless story about a classless anti-heroine. Amidst some very sharp diction, biting humour, and poetic observations, Tracy at once emerges as a pathetic uber-student and silly femme fatale, a victim of the loneliness ambition brings.
Though, it is not until halfway through the novel that the reader learns how and why we feel sorry for Tracy. Some very painful glimpses behind Tracy's awards and achievements occur, but rest assured that they do not happen in a soap operatic way - but rather, they are implied with a single statment, one word, unwitting admissions by Tracy herself. The fact is, we find out how devastated she is by her loneliness at the same rate she does - that's what makes this book so great - we don't know anymore about Tracy than Tracy does at any given point.
The ultimate impact of "Election" is an exacting political satire and complex human portrait that is not without its jabs at the American Dream and the inherently doomed and damnable American Dreamer.
I look forward to reading Mr. Perrotta's other efforts. Ten stars, if possible!
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