“So, my beautiful fat girlfriend, Cassidy, is threatening to kick me to the curb again, my best friend suddenly wants to put the brakes on our lives of fabulous fun, and my dad, well, my dad is a big fat question mark that I’m not sure I want the answer to.
Some people would let a senior year like this get them down. Not me. I’m Sutter Keely, master of the party. But don’t mistake a midnight philosopher like me for nothing more than a shallow party boy. Just ask Aimee, the new girl in my life. She saw the depth in the Sutterman from that first moment when she found me passed out on the front lawn. Okay, so she’s a social disaster, but isn’t it my duty to show her a splendiferous time, and then let her go forth and prosper?
Yes, life is weird, but I embrace the weird. Let everyone else go marching off into their great shining futures if they want. Me, I’ve always been more than content to tip my whisky bottle and take a ride straight into the heart of the Spectacular Now.”
Life defines who we are and how we perceive things.
Reading The Spectacular Now, halfway around the world and on the eve of a new year (not to mention my remaining days as thirty-year-old), was a little cathartic. It’s a book that, I feel, I would have enjoyed and analyzed-the-hell-out-of had I read it during the Christmas break stuck in my room while ruminating where my life is going next– But I was in New York City, traversing the metropolitan on my own with no worries and no meaningful connections.
Although I was far from being the master of the party, I was Sutter Keely for thirteen days, while I navigated a foreign city with a not-a-care-in-the-world attitude. I was experiencing the spectacular now.
It was very lonely.
This, obviously, affected my enjoyment of the novel. I could see myself in Sutter and I can see where his life is going. I can see where my life was going through him. And I felt an intense dislike for the events that were unfolding. But from the moment I met Sutter Keely, I already knew where his story was heading.
I really didn’t like it.
I guess this is where I make a disclaimer about the book being well-written and the characters breathing like real people. And that’s true. But I’m not a book critic who earns his living reviewing books online or on paper. I’m a reader who posts my reactions to the books I read. And The Spectacular Now paints a too-bleak picture that I really cannot get myself to like.
On the other hand, the novel has given me something that none of the other books I read in 2015 have given me: the motive to change my life. So, in a way, I can say that this book is life-changing.
One of the questions that The Spectacular Now posits is whether you should live for the future, or if you live in the moment. By the end of the novel, and by the end of my trip, I find my answer: it has to be a mixture of both. You have to live in the moment, but you can never forget that there is always a future that will be affected. If not yours, then someone else’s.
Although I already knew that, The Spectacular Now drives the point deeper in me. Because the time to just play around is over, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop living in the moment either. You just have to find the balance.
And it will be a constant struggle.