Chapter 1: About Tom Perrotta
Tom Perrotta

Tom Perrotta is the author of the forthcoming novel The Leftovers, as well as The Abstinence Teacher, Little Children, Joe College, Election, The Wishbones, and Bad Haircut.

Official Tom Perrotta Chronology

  • 1961: Tom born August 13th; shares birthday with luminaries such as Alfred Hitchcock, Fidel Castro, and, most importantly, Danny Bonaduce, with whom he shares an uncanny resemblance throughout childhood, or so he likes to think. Berlin Wall goes up same day.
  • 1966: Tom celebrates First Holy Communion at St. Ann's Church; in iconic scene, later repeated throughout adolescence, he watches with mixed feelings as more adventurous friends steal jelly donuts meant for reception. The Troggs release "Wild Thing."
  • 1968:Busy year; Tom plays shortstop for Diamond Expansion in the Garwood Minor League, begins short-lived scouting career. Defending little sister, Tom threatens to throw syringe-wielding pediatrician "out the window," much to the amusement of his mother and the pediatrician. Summer of Love in San Francisco.
  • 1972: Precociously political, Tom campaigns for George McGovern in Pop Warner football uniform, along with teammate and teammate's hippie brother; trio is verbally abused by neighbors, many of whom belong to misleadingly-named Silent Majority. "Horse With No Name" tops the pop charts.
  • 1974: In a stab at "Easy Rider" cool, Tom ventures out in a long-sleeved T-shirt emblazoned with the American flag, but his closed-minded peers react with scorn. His Seals & Crofts t-shirt and blue sheepskin jacket don't fare much better with the critics. Monty Python's Flying Circus makes first appearance on American TV.
  • 1977: A sophomore, Tom publishes "The Freak Show" in Pariah, a high-school literary magazine, initiating a productive three-year relationship with the publication. "One Tiny Plant"—an environmental cri du coeur heavily influenced by Rod Serling—and "The Standing Ovation"—a bittersweet expose of the fleeting nature of athletic glory, also heavily influenced by Serling—follow in junior and senior years. Country suffers from a bad case of Saturday Night Fever.
  • 1978: Tom passes up tickets for a Bruce Springsteen show at the Capitol Theater to spend time with a girlfriend. Tom and girl break up that night; Bruce plays legendary five-hour show. John Irving publishes The World According to Garp.
  • 1980: Tom gets summer job collecting garbage for the Garwood Department of Public Works. Doesn't throw up once, not even during heat wave. Ronald Reagan elected president.
  • 1981: Tom publishes "A Safe Place for Dogs" in The Spider's Web, a college literary magazine. Feels life would be more meaningful if he were an Eastern European dissident, or a beatnik driving cross-country. Raymond Carver publishes What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.
  • 1983: Tom graduates college with a B.A. in English (with distinction in the major). Gets job proofreading World Tennis and Tobacco Retailer on the night shift. Quits and goes to work for Division of Consumer Affairs, protecting homeowners from fraud and abuse by sending polite form letters to unscrupulous contractors. Martin Scorsese makes King of Comedy.
  • 1985: Brief stint in Bay Area. Tom resides in makeshift loft in Oakland Industrial Center with college friend, artist Byron Kim, works as clerk in Excess & Surplus Property storage facility; enjoys answering phone with the words, "ESP Warehouse, may I help you?" Gabriel Garcia Marquez publishes Love in the Time of Cholera.
  • 1987: A graduate student at Syracuse University's Creative Writing Program, Tom takes a part-time job writing ad copy. Responsible for many notable radio spots, including "Superstars in the World of Cars" campaign for local dealership. Congressional hearings into Iran-Contra affair.
  • 1988: Tom takes job as writing tutor and part-time instructor at Yale University, at one point receiving paycheck for grand total of O dollars and o/100 cents. First published stories—"The Weiner Man" in Columbia Magazine, and "Wild Kingdom" in The Gettysburg Review. Sonny Bono elected mayor of Palm Springs.
  • 1991: Tom marries Mary, moves to Brooklyn. Writes still-unpublished novel, Lucky Winners, about a working-class family that wins the lottery and lives to regret it. Nirvana releases Nevermind.
  • 1992: Temporarily unemployed, Tom becomes obsessed with presidential election, which features three-way race between Bush, Clinton, and the always entertaining Ross Perot. Also takes up roller-blading. Dan Quayle spells "potatoe."
  • 1993: Unwilling to abandon his obsession with the recent election, Tom begins his own novel about a three-way race for high-school president. At the same time, he ghost-writes teen horror novel for best-selling series (don't ask which one; he's taken an oath of non-disclosure). Toni Morrison wins Nobel Prize for Literature.
  • 1994: Tom's story collection, You Start to Live, is accepted for publication by a small press called Bridge Works. At publisher's insistence, he changes title to Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies, which turns out to be a much better idea. Daughter Nina is born. Very cute kid. Tonya Harding takes a whack at Nancy Kerrigan.
  • 1996: Tom's still-unpublished novel, Election, is optioned by Bona Fide Productions and MTV Films. When he tells his Harvard students that the novel recounts a cut-throat race for the "meaningless post" of high-school president, the audience of ex-high-school-chief-executives reacts with visible shock and dismay. Richard Ford wins Pulitzer for Independence Day.
  • 1997: Tom publishes The Wishbones, a comic novel about a New Jersey wedding band that has absolutely nothing to do with Adam Sandler movie The Wedding Singer. Son Luke is born. Handsome devil. Tobias Wolff publishes The Night in Question.
  • 1999: Tom's six-year-old novel Election is finally published, beating Alexander Payne's excellent movie version (starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon) by only a few months. First season of The Sopranos.
  • 2000: Tom publishes Joe College, a novel about a working class kid from New Jersey who goes to Yale during the same years Tom went. Only a couple of passages are autobiographical—the one about Tom's myriad food aversions, and the one about that other thing he prefers not to talk about. George Bush "wins" the presidential election, with the Supreme Court playing the role of Mr. M.
  • 2004: Tom publishes Little Children, the hardcover version of which sports a memorable cover showing two goldfish crackers floating on a field of astroturf. Pepperidge Farm is not amused. Gay marriage legal in Massachusetts.
  • 2006: Todd Field's powerful movie version of Little Children (starring Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson and co-written by Tom) is released by New Line. Tom has a small role near the end. Dig the blue robe and shorty pajamas. George W. Bush reads Camus's The Stranger during summer vacation.
  • 2007: Tom publishes The Abstinence Teacher, a novel about sex education, soccer, and the Great American Culture War; has hours of fun googling the phrase, "Hot Christian Sex." Reverend Ted Haggard pronounced "completely heterosexual" by fellow minister.
  • 2008: Tom writes screenplay for The Abstinence Teacher, collaborating with Little Miss Sunshine directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Gas prices reach record highs; Journey has new lead singer. It's 1978 all over again.
  • 2009: Barack Obama inaugurated as 44th President. Jersey Shore a surprise hit on MTV. Is this a great country or what?
  • 2010: Tom writes The Leftovers, a novel about a suburban town muddling through the apocalypse. Drill, baby, drill!
  • 2011: HBO options The Leftovers. The Republican contenders for President include Pizza Man Herman Cain ("Okay, Libya....I got all this stuff twirling around in my head") and, for a second two, Crazy Man Donald Trump ("Let me tell you, I'm a really smart guy"). Should be a really tight race.
  • 2012: Damon Lindelof of Lost fame collaborates with Tom on the HBO pilot of The Leftovers. Chuck Berry and Leonard Cohen share first PEN New England Award for Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence. Barack Obama re-elected President. World fails to end once again. A pretty good year, all around.