A Book Nonreview, or Three Things That Guarantee a Book Will Suck
Bitchfest by Jen
The Lecturer’s Tale
Picador USA, New York
Verdict: 0/5 Chunky!
“World domination? Pshaw.”
The three things:
3. Recurring (sometimes lengthy) foreign words or phrases with no translation;
2. Too many obscure words that make me resort to a dictionary twice on every page (and I have a pretty big vocabulary); and
1. Anything more than ultra-superficial plot involvement of tenure track and/or academia.
I just quit the book The Lecturer’s Tale (James Hynes; Picador USA, New York; 2001) on page 98, chapter 6, because it is guilty of all three. I hardly ever quit books. This was an extreme case.
I would’ve known better than to even start had I paid more attention to the quote on the cover: “‘The most devastating satirical portrait of contemporary academic life I’ve ever read'” (emphasis added).
The protagonist, a milquetoast visiting lecturer who has just lost his job and his faculty housing, gets a magic finger that makes people do his bidding when he touches them. World domination? Pshaw. So far he has used his powers only for meager advancement in his professional professorial life. Granted, he is just now beginning to understand the depth and breadth of said powers, but here I venture a guess: When he achieves mastery of the magic finger, he will rise to … wait for it! … dean!
In a nutshell, blech.
This is a book by a professor of literature for other professors of literature. Nobody else cares.
I can think of a number of things I’d use such a magic finger for, and few of them are appropriate for a family site such as ours. Thanks for the warning, Jen!
Who ever said this was a family site?! … Erm. Well, *I* would use *my* magic finger to get people to pay my bills for me and give me extra money to support me in a life of hedonistic leisure. My regular finger is good enough for everything else :p
If anyone is looking for a really good, solid read and doesn’t mind just a tad of fantasy mixed in with tons of gritty realism, check out The Terror by Dan Simmons. Silly English sail into the iceberg littered waters north of Canada in search of the NW Passage and find much more than they bargained for. A triple cross between a nautical historical novel, Lord of the Flies and a subtle horror story. While it suffers from Simmons tendency to overwrite it mostly sparkles.
How nice to read a book review here.
Jen, if you enjoy academic ridiculousness with minimal foreign words sans translation, check out Richard Russo’s Straight Man. I remember reading it while a grad student and thinking . . . yep, he nailed it.
Ha! I’m just catching up (as usual… perpetually “just catching up”), but this review made me laugh.
So, no villain? 🙂
I remember reading it while a grad student and thinking . . . yep, he nailed it?
Do you know where people can get a GalileoScope?