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Tom Perrotta Does Research, Blogger Style

Courtesy of St. Martin's Press

Tom Perrotta, author of The Abstinence Teacher, explains his research techniques in Sunday's profile in "Arts & Leisure":

Although Mr. Perrotta read articles and trawled the Internet for details about abstinence campaigns while writing the novel, he never actually attended a real-life rally...


To research the novel’s evangelical components, Mr. Perrotta attended a few church services and spent a lot of time typing “Christian sex tips” into Google.

Look, we're guilty of doing our research on Christian sex tips the exact same way, but we're bloggers. We know Perrotta explicitly says he doesn't want to take the whole "Tom Wolfe immersion approach," but shouldn't the bar be a little higher for novelists? There's a lot to like about The Abstinence Teacher, and it's clear that Perrotta takes his Christian characters seriously, but every church and revival scene in the novel feels pretty rote, and maybe this is why.

A Writer’s Search for the Sex in Abstinence [NYT]
Related: Tom Perrotta’s Sex-Ed Book [NYM]