The Spectacular Now
by Tim Tharp
Where It All Goes Down
Modern-Day Oklahoma City
Here's the thing about the setting in The Spectacular Now: the fact that it takes place in modern-day Oklahoma is not that big of a deal. Sure, Sutter mentions various places where he parties there, but for the most part, this story could just as easily have happened in some other city.
The Spectacular Then?
What really matters is the novel's time. For someone who wants to live in the "spectacular now," Sutter sure spends a lot of time reliving the past. Whether he's telling a story at a party or reminiscing about his dad, most of his interactions with other people, and most of the time he spends alone, is dedicated to the past. He doesn't even like modern music – he wants to listen to the stuff his dad liked.
Home is Where the Heart Is
Of course, some settings really are important. Certain neighborhoods (like Aimee's, for instance), mean more to him because they remind him of his early childhood, when his dad was still with them. Houses are important to Sutter, too. That's why he gets so upset when he remembers their family first moving in with Geech. It was a betrayal of their father's memory to leave the house where he used to live.
And to keep that connection to his dad going, even after the disappointment of seeing him again, where does Sutter end up? In a run-down bar, just like the one his dad brought him to in Fort Worth, reminiscing about the past with a bunch of other drunks.