Only in my field of YA literature do the letters NBA not have anything to do with tall guys playing b-ball. I finished reading the last finalist for the National Book Award last night here in Nashville. THE SPECTACULAR NOW by Tim Tharp (Knopf, 2008) tells of Sutter, an 18 year old who is disconnected from so much of the reality of his life. He has no real relationship with his mother or sister. His father has been absent for some time, and Sutter had woven a fictional narrative about him. Instead, Sutter's role is to be the life of the party. He spikes his soft drinks with whiskey to held fuzz out the sharp edges of life. When his girlfriend dumps him, Sutter reaches out to Aimee, a loner at his school. His intentions, as they always are, seem honorable. However, intentions are not sufficient.
Readers will be left pondering some interesting questions here. Adult readers probably more so. Sutter is hardly a sympathetic character and yet there is something endearing about him. This comes about, I think, because Tharp has crafted someone who is realized without being whole. That is, in itself, an incredible feat. I will be anxious to see teen reader feedback from this book due to launch next week.