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Read Election (1998)

Election (1998)

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3.86 of 5 Votes: 2
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0425167283 (ISBN13: 9780425167281)

Election (1998) - Plot & Excerpts

“The logistics of a high school election are no laughing matter. At the same time you’re educating your students about democracy, you’re working to safeguard the process against fraud. It’s sad but true: given half a chance, most kids will cheat to win. They’re a lot like adults in this respect” – Mr. MI’ve never seen the movie adaptation of Election, but I understand that a lot of its cult followers can be likened to Rushmore enthusiasts. Winwood High School is an anonymous high school, in a generic small town, where most people seem to be interested in high school sports and getting into a good college, rather than the upcoming presidential election.The graduating class of ’93 is in the midst of its own class president election, and little does anyone realize that it will set into motion a series of events that will change the lives of quite a few people, especially Mr. M’s. Perrotta’s use of alternating points of view is one of his best writing gifts. In Election, he does a wonderful job of isolating the labels: the jock, the outcast, most likely to succeed, adulterer, etc. The reader is able to glimpse events through each individual’s sober, unreliable vantage point. However, it’s the clarity of assessment from others’ points of view of these same characters that really bring to light what makes each of them do what they do. It’s ingenious! “It was something that had never occurred to me before: she was unhappy. On stage that afternoon, this simple fact struck me with the unmistakable force of truth. Tracy Flick needed someone to cheer her up. So did Lisa, now that I thought about it; so did Tammy and my mother and my father. Maybe that’s what we look for in the people we love, the spark of unhappiness we think we know how to extinguish…” – Paul Warren, Class of ’93 Presidential CandidateI really enjoyed this book. Perrotta is dark humor and irony at its best, but after consideration, I came to realize that it’s a deceptively “light read.” There’s a message in here for everyone. For myself? I remember feeling a lot like Mr.M at the onset of the novel in the past, having a restlessness about life, where it was headed, and if this is what I was meant to be doing…forever! Although I’m happy now, I can’t help but look back and think that I was doing something meaningful with my life, and at least I was making a difference to some people, if even on a small scale. Why are we so quick to discredit our efforts? Ah, ’tis imperfection, I guess. “That should have been a happy time in my life. I had a good job, an apparently solid marriage, and an easy, unthinking faith in my own good judgment and moral integrity. Right now, that seems like more than enough to ask for.”

When I first saw the movie back in the 1990s, I hadn't embraced my dark side yet. I thought it was depressing and left me with the feeling of, "Now what?"Of course, as I grew older, I realized that not everything has a happy ending. And I learned how to make fun of the bad parts of life. So when I picked up Election in a bookstore a few years ago, I figured I'd give it a go. Very smart move on my part.Election is an interesting spin for Perrotta--it's the only novel he has written where the P.O.V. alternates between characters. He keeps it fresh, refusing to repeat the same scenario through different voices, a problem that several authors encounter when they try to switch up the narrators. No, Perrotta makes it believable when he goes from Mr. M to Mr. M's "mortal enemy", Tracy Flick. The basic plotline itself is a little bizarre: a high school Government teacher determined to take the school's most ambitious (and cutthroat) student down a few-pegs, eventually bringing it down to a simple election that goes completely awry. And of course, adding a few extra characters--the sweet but dumb football player Paul who runs for Class President against Tracy,his sister Tammy who runs against him, and Tammy's former-lover Lisa who decides to prove she's not a lesbian by chasing after Paul--and it makes for a chaotic but interesting read. Not very long, it's a book I finished in hours. I re-read it at least once a year. Definitely recommended.

What do You think about Election (1998)?

Pretty much the book I probably could have written and wish I did. It's hilarious how these selfish high school characters morph into the political stereotypes we all know by now, and somehow Mr. M the idealistic (or naive?) teacher somehow pays for it all in the end. As far as a satire goes, this is a prime example. Anyone looking to learn about politicians need not go further than a high school full of people filled with ambition but no goals. When I first read this book I was Mr. M full of idealism. Now I wouldn't say this book changed me but it was a small part of a larger experience which made me into the pessimist that I am. Every election when my friends complain about how they don't understand politicians, I tell them to pick up this book. It's all in there. As for the movie, I saw it a very long time ago, and it didn't really stick with me. That's not to say it was bad, but at that point the book's impact was cemented in me.
—Matt Raymond

I am going through my Tom Perrotta phase. I held off on this one, because I loved the movie. As much as I loved the movie, I have to admit that the book was better, as usually is the case. In defense of the movie, it's a pretty decent adaptation and where is strays from the book, only make the movie stronger.The characters in the book are much more sympathetic, especially Tracy and Mr. M. I also preferred the ending in the book, it brought the story full circle. The ending in the movie in funny, but in the book it's more meaningful and has substance. As usual, Perrota does a great job with final paragraphs. Even though it ended on the perfect note, I wanted more!!!
—Karen Germain

This is an even quicker read than "The Wishbones," but it's a little meatier. Tom Perrotta has more on his mind than the life and times of the self-centered post-slacker. Oh, he's here, too. He teaches now. And he's right in the middle of a wicked satire of two of America's most absurd and generally pointless institutions: politics and high school. Perrotta writes convincingly from the POV of a variety of characters: History teacher Mr. M, who sabotages an election at school and his marriage at home; Tracy Flick, an obnoxiously ambitious social climber; Paul Warren, an amiable lunkhead jock; Paul's sister, Tracy, monkeywrench in the political machine and lesbian-in-training; and a handful of others. Like the best satire, "Election" avoids broad caricatures and grounds itself pretty close to reality, and it cuts all the deeper for it. Even Tracy, the novel's nominal villain, proves surprisingly sympathetic and three-dimensional. Sure, she needs to be strangled with her ponytail, but she's human, too.
—Jonathan Briggs

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