A satirical story on the inner workings of a university and its reflection on higher learning.
Lead protagonist Jane Fairfax, one of the cogs in the wheel of the English department, relieves her job-related frustrations by writing various novel plots featuring her psychotically unbalanced colleague Dr. Virginia Borensen and the nefarious Wallace T. Flood, vice president of Academic Affairs. Flood, a man of questionable background, is focused solely on converting the current education process into a strictly online venture—a plan that is being met with extreme faculty resistance. Flood’s utopian digital environment would not only greatly reduce the need for human educators but also decrease the value of higher education as a whole by allowing for the purchase of a degree rather than the earning of one. Setting his sites on the elimination of Jane and the rest of the “useless” Liberal Arts department as his first order of business, Flood recruits the much despised Borensen by skipping all proper channels and making her department chair; allowing such an unstable woman to wield power over her colleagues should help to quickly weaken the ranks—or at the very least their resolve. Dadlez (Mirrors to One Another, 2009, etc.) clearly shows her range from a serious philosophy professor to a witty novelist, successfully rendering compelling characters who meld perfectly together to create a clever, farcical tale. Subtle allusions to classic literature are scattered like Easter eggs throughout; such as the evil, insect-eating dog named Reinfeld. Of note is Dadlez’s interesting habit of not so much introducing her characters but rather throwing them right into the mix. Although this works in most instances, there are moments when it feels like the reader missed something, and, within the context of the passage, failed to have the implied familiarity with a particular character who, in actuality, had only just been introduced.
Though certain plot lines felt a little too drawn out and exhaustive, Dadlez succeeds in crafting an entertaining story by shining a humorous light on the backdoor politics and self-serving agendas in the world of academia.