A sharp and tightly crafted tale of campus exploitation.



A young college student begins an affair with her history professor in this novel.

Why is a male teaching women’s history?” That’s what Miss Jane, a “Cracker hick/chick” away at a state university on a scholarship, would like to know when she sits down with her 30 female classmates (and three female teaching assistants) in Prof P’s seminar classroom. Her precociousness does not escape the professor’s notice, as he quickly moves Jane from the study group overseen by TA Alice to his own. Prof P is a popular, hip teacher, the kind who holds his classes outside and tosses his students’ notebooks across the lawn, haranguing them not to scribble but to think. He is a divorced father on the cusp of middle age, and Jane is the ninth of his “college gal projects,” easy conquests due to the power imbalance between teacher and pupil. Jane can’t help but be flattered by the attention Prof P heaps on her. Anyway, he’s easier to talk to than hookup partner and fellow student Seth B. Despite the warnings of her ambitious roommate, Cinda G, Jane allows Prof P to seduce her before finals. She feels deeply confused about the affair while home for Christmas break but then accepts Prof P’s offer to move in with him when she returns to school the next semester. As Jane becomes more deeply embroiled in Prof P’s world—his colleagues, children, and the complicit echo chamber of the academy—the situation threatens to upend her education and cause more lasting damage: “With Miss Jane nightly in his bed, Prof P’s mission grows exponentially more ambitious. To subdue a body, one thing; to reprogram a mind, a thing far grander.” Meads’ (In This Season of Rage and Melancholy Such Irrevocable Acts as These, 2016, etc.) prose is playfully postmodern, layered with linguistic tricks and dripping with self-awareness. The narrator is a Greek chorus animated by the righteous indignation that the confused Jane does not yet possess: “Thematically we will stay the course. Power politics. Sexual politics. Age versus youth. Authority’s manipulation of head-to-pubes-to-toe confusion. The world’s themes do not change, why should they here?” The novel is short, but nearly every sentence is imbued with a wry, astute, or lyrical comment. While at first the whole thing feels highly satirical, the characters are slowly revealed to possess unexpected complexity, particularly Jane and her fellow students. Even Prof P, who is not at all sympathetic, is frighteningly believable. Meads endeavors not simply to show how such an affair comes about, but also how much damage it can do to the younger party. She provides a response to the many campus novels over the years written from the (usually permissive) perspective of the lecherous professor. Though the story takes place in 1969—and many of the barbs, such as Prof P’s Greek fisherman’s cap and turquoise necklace, are aimed specifically at that era—the book feels incredibly relevant to today’s reckoning with powerful men’s sexual abuse of the women around them.

A sharp and tightly crafted tale of campus exploitation.

Pub Date: May 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-60489-201-7

Page Count: 203

Publisher: Livingston Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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