The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp


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.


I know a female version of Sutter; the charming social butterfly and life of the party. Fun at first, but soon it gets sad and embarrassing to be around. Referring to himself as ‘God’s own drunk’, Sutter lives in the ‘spectacular now’ and refuses to plan for the future.  In this character driven story, the totally flawed narrator, Sutter is constantly drinking booze at home, school, work, and in the car with his giant 7up and whiskey cup. His alcohol addiction is apparent, but he lives in complete denial. While I’m happy Sutter meets Aimee and slowly helps her gain confidence to stand up to others, I hated seeing her pick up some of his lushness in the process.

Although it was true to Sutter’s character, the ending saddened me.  It was a realistic conclusion that reminds readers that real life is messy, and happy endings aren’t in the cards for everyone. I have to wonder how Sutter’s ‘spectacular now’ concept is still holding up for him…

Look for the film adaptation of The Spectacular Now in theatres August 2013.




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