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Overview for Tom Perrotta
Tom Perrotta

Tom Perrotta


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Also Known As: Died:
Born: August 13, 1961 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Garwood, New Jersey, USA Profession: Writer ... novelist screenwriter english professor


The novels of author Tom Perrotta were rich with honest, insightful, and very funny examinations of life in suburban America. These same qualities made his work a natural destination for independent filmmakers, who have made acclaimed features based on his work - 1999's dark comedy "Election" and 2006's "Little Children" - for which Perrotta co-wrote the script and received a Golden Globe nomination that same year.

Born Aug. 13, 1961 in Garwood, NJ, Perrotta was an avid reader in a household dominated by parents who never attended college. His fascination with the written word motivated him to pursue writing as a career, so after graduating from Yale, he attended the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University. A major attraction for him at that institute was novelist Raymond Carver, who was one of Perrotta's literary heroes, but illness prevented him from studying with Carver. However, author Tobias Wolff (This Boy's Life) was also on the faculty, and served as teacher and friend to Perrotta during his graduate studies.

Much of the work Perrotta wrote during his time at Syracuse was eventually published as Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies (1994), a humorous collection of small-town misadventures that earned him critical praise. While he worked as a professor at Yale and later Harvard, Perrotta published two novels - 1997's The Wishbones, about a guitarist in a struggling wedding band, and 1999's Election, which was optioned in 1996 by MTV Films. The book itself was released only a few short months before the Oscar-nominated film version (starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick) hit theaters, but both earned considerable critical praise. The Wishbones had been optioned several times, with scripts by Noah Baumbach and Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were penned, but none went into production at that time.

In 2000, Perrotta published the semi-autobiographical Joe College, about a working-class student who attends Yale. The book landed on the national best-seller list and solidified his popularity as an author with both fans and critics. He followed this with several essays on pop culture for GQ and Rolling Stone in 2001 and 2002.

2004 saw the publication of Little Children, which had been Perrotta's most acclaimed novel to date. Like his previous work, the book was darkly comic in its exploration of a sleepy bedroom community and its residents, but the dramatic elements - which include infidelity between its main characters and a subplot involving a convicted pedophile - lent emotional weight to the work. Perrotta later collaborated with director Todd Field (of 2001's "In the Bedroom" fame) on a screenplay based on the novel. The resulting film, which starred Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly, and an astonishing "comeback" from '70s teen actor Jackie Earle Haley, netted numerous awards and nominations, including a Golden Globe nod for the screenplay. Eagle-eyed audience members also caught a glimpse of Perrotta in a small role at the end of the film.

Since the 2006 release of "Little Children," Perrotta, completed an original comedy script with Rob Greenburg (writer/producer for "Frasier," NBC, 1993-2004) and planned to return to novel writing in the near future.

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