Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book

Book, by Robert Grudin

Back in the mid-90s, I had a copy of this novel and enjoyed it a lot, but at some point it disappeared.  Happily, I found a library copy (pro tip: do not name your novel Book, for it will give library software fits if you can't remember the author's name) and took it home to enjoy once more.  This is possibly the first academic satirical comedy I read, unless David Lodge came first.

Adam Snell, professor of literature and failed novelist, has disappeared just two days before his post-tenure review--at which half the English department was planning to savage his reputation and get rid of him.  They're just as happy to think he'll turn up dead soon so they can get a really cutting-edge literary theorist in.  But where is Snell?  Why are copies of his novel disappearing?

Grudin, an English professor himself (and fellow graduate of Berkeley's comparative literature program, albeit 25 years earlier than I), just has a fun little romp through literary theory and textual conventions.  Collected documents and transcripts tell the story--part of the time, anyway.  Footnotes and marginalia stage a revolt in disgust.  A good time is had by all.

I wish I still had my copy of Book.  I like re-reading it.

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