Sometimes it takes a movie to make me put a book on the top of my ever-growing nightstand pile. That was the case with Tim Tharp's The Spectacular Now, which I've owned forever but somehow never read. The film version, which has been called "a perfect movie" and "splendidly intoxicating," came out this weekend. But I'm here to say this: Read the book. Yes, the movie is fabulous too. But the book... the book!
This is the story of high school senior Sutter Keely, life of the party and budding alcoholic, who lives very much in the moment and is never very far from his flask, even as he falls in something like love with studious and shy Aimee. It's one of those hug-it-to-your-chest-when-you-finish books that you don't want to let go of -- it manages to be both tragic and funny. You simply do not want to leave the world or the characters that Tharp creates. I find myself, days after reading the novel, thinking about what they're up to now, what they're seeing, thinking and feeling.