The Spectacular Now – Tim Tharp


This National Book Award Finalist is now a major motion picture — one of the most buzzed-about films at Sundance 2013, starring Shailene Woodley (star of The Fault in our Stars and Divergent) and Miles Teller (star of Whiplash).

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go
forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

Review From Publishers Weekly

Unlike most high school seniors, Sutter Keely—the narrator of this smart, superbly written novel—is not concerned with the future. Hes the life of the party, and hes interested in the Spectacular Now. In stream of consciousness–style prose, Sutter describes his lurching from one good time to the next: he carries whiskey in a flask, and once its mixed into his 7Up, anything is possible. He will jump into the pool fully clothed, climb up a tree and onto his ex-girlfriends roof or cruise around all hours of the night. Without ever deviating from the voice of the egocentric Sutter, Tharp (Knights of the Hill Country) fully develops all of the ancillary characters, such as socially awkward Aimee, the new girlfriend who tries to plan a future with this quintessential live-for-the-moment guy. Readers will be simultaneously charmed and infuriated by Sutter as his voice holds them in thrall to his all-powerful Now. Ages 14–up. (Nov.)

Review From School Library Journal

Filtered through the whiskey-soaked perceptions of high school senior Sutter Keely, Tim Tharp’s quirky novel (Knopf, 2008) echoes the tragic-comic struggles typical of many students launching themselves into the maelstrom of the adult world. Part witty party boy and would-be Lothario, Sutter walks a tightrope of avoidance, love, compassion, and resistance to the whole grown-up thing. Life would be so much simpler if everyone understood both his desire to help those in need and his aesthetic appreciation of the intangible beauties to be observed in the “spectacular now.” Part comedy and part poignant saga, MacLeod Andrews delivers a knife-edge performance, full of jaunty insouciance and touching despair, liberally soused with the teen’s ever-present, whiskey-laden bon mots. Sutter’s adventures and alcoholic slide take place mostly on a road to nowhere. Along the way, he loses his girlfriend and alienates his sister and brother-in-law by nearly setting their house on fire; but he also sets up his best friend with his first girlfriend, and aims to boost his new girlfriend Aimee’s self-esteem with his sincere and flamboyant attention. Andrews’s portrayal is perfectly nuanced, and listeners will be entranced, even as they wince at the zany perambulations of a young man who has lost his way, all the while helping friends and strangers with his keen insights and goofy charm. Sutter is a more charming, less alienated Holden Caulfield, trenchantly in thrall to the “Bright Lights, Big City” of his alcohol-infused imagination.—Roxanne Spencer, Western Kentucky University Libraries, Bowling Green