The Spectacular Now (Book)

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According to Goodreads, ‘The Spectacular Now’ is –

“This National Book Award Finalist is now a major motion picture — one of the most buzzed-about films at Sundance 2013, starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller. 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.”

It’s been a few days since I read this book so I’ve had enough of time to take it in. the problem is I still have no freaking idea what to think about it. I don’t know whether I should hate the book and dissuade my bookworm friends from reading it or whether I should love it and make them read it. Maybe I should do a bit of both. I do think that ‘The Spectacular Now’ is amazing. But the end! It kind of spoilt the entire book for me. So is it that I loved the book but hated the end? Nope. The end while awful was absolutely necessary. I don’t know how to explain without spoilers. So, I guess-

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Sutter Keely is an eighteen year old alcoholic who believes in living in the spectacular now and has a great sense of humor. Aimee Finecky is your typical shy nerd with a deep love for science fiction. At the beginning of the book, we’re shown that Sutter is obviously an alcoholic. He has a girlfriend, Cassidy. He does care about her. But the Sutterman does not believe in planning for the future.  He only believes in living in the now in the most spectacular way possible. Sutter is adorable but he just doesn’t get that his actions have consequences.  And as Cassidy tells him, ” For once, put someone else’s feelings before your own.”  Cassidy dumps Sutter.

Then we can see Sutter-the party king’s downfall bit by bit. No, it’s not that he starts becoming less fun.  It’s just that as graduation looms ahead, everyone around him starts growing up.

One night, after a disastrous dinner party at his sister’s place, Sutter gets absolutely trashed and wakes up the next morning in someone’s backyard with Aimee Finecky looking down at him. At first, he pities her. He thinks she’s a social disaster and takes her up as his project. He intends to grow her a backbone. But Aimee isn’t like Cassidy or Shawnie or any of the other girls.

“She’s different from the girls I’m used to dating. She doesn’t get tired of my stories and jokes or expect me to start reading her mind. She doesn’t want me to dress better or put highlights in my hair or serious up. I’m not a lifestyle accessory to her. I’m a necessity. I’m the guy that’s going to crack open her cocoon. She doesn’t need to change me – she needs me to change her. At least until her little butterfly wings get strong enough to fly away.” 

So they start dating and as expected Aimee falls for Sutter. She starts drinking and stands up to her so called best friend. She stands up to her mum about not going to community College. It’s a pretty good change for her so far. She loosens up.

But soon, it starts becoming too much. Aimee starts drinking almost as much as Sutter. Her grades start falling. And after an after-prom party, she earns a nick-name that has a lot to do with puking. Not good.

Cassidy and Ricky (Sutter’s best friend) stage an Aimee Intervention. Sutter doesn’t agree at first but after an accident while returning from his father’s place in which Aimee breaks her hand, he realizes Aimee deserves way better than he can give her.

“She’s drenched and bedraggled, but I’ve never loved anyone as much as I love her right now. That’s how I know I’ll have to give her up.” 

“See, I do have a future to give her after all, just not one that includes me.” 

Sutter puts Aimee’s feelings before his own. He does do that, for once in his life.

Now, he has no job, his illusion of his father is dashed to pieces, and all his friends are going places and growing up. And there’s no Aimee.

At the very end, we see Sutter getting drunk in a bar with a bunch of other drunks. It’s like a portal into his future. You hope that Aimee would be successful in saving him. But she isn’t. And you knew that! Somewhere, in some sick way, the ending wasn’t unexpected. We are still stuck in those Disney fairytales. Happily ever afters, huh.

So the book ends on the most perfect, real and heart-breaking note-

“I open my arms wide and let the wind flow over me. I love the universe and the universe loves me. That’s the one-two punch right there, wanting to love and wanting to be loved. Everything else is pure idiocy—shiny fancy outfits, Geech-green Cadillacs, sixty-dollar haircuts, schlock radio, celebrity-rehab idiots, and most of all, the atomic vampires with their de-soul-inators, and flag-draped coffins. 

Goodbye to all that, I say. And goodbye to Mr. Asterhole and the Red Death of algebra and to the likes of Geech and Keeeevin. Goodbye to Mom’s rented tan and my sister’s chargecard boobs. Goodbye to Dad for the second and last time. Goodbye to black spells and jagged hangovers, divorces, and Fort Worth nightmares. To high school and Bob Lewis and once-upon-a-time Ricky. Goodbye to the future and the past and, most of all, to Aimee and Cassidy and all the other girls who came and went and came and went. 

Goodbye. Goodbye. I can’t feel you anymore. The night is almost too beautifully pure for my soul to contain. I walk with my arms spread open under the big fat moon. Heroic “weeds rise up from the cracks in the sidewalk, and the colored lights of the Hawaiian Breeze ignite the broken glass in the gutter. Goodbye, I say, goodbye, as I disappear little by little into the middle of the middle of my own spectacular now” 

And we are left with indecision. I know, I was.

Now for the movie. Here’s the trailer- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDTBLSkUmYk

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ryandejonghe
    May 13, 2014 @ 18:27:56

    I loved the movie; I need to read the book. Thanks for the great review.

    Like

    Reply

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