BOOK by Robert Grudin


A Novel
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 Demented deconstructionist plots to kill gentle humanist and destroy his life's work--in this waggish, intermittently inspired sendup of contemporary academic mores. Washagon College's English department, in thrall to Glanda Gazza, a chair who dreams of seceding, together with a department of literary theory that can dispense with literature altogether, plans to ease out do-nothing Prof. Adam Snell at its May meeting. But the proceedings are disrupted when Snell turns up missing from his home--and all copies of his small-press novel, Sovrana Sostrata, have disappeared too, hunted down by a nemesis who turns out to be crazed rising star Frank Underwood, determined to wipe out every trace of Adam's existence. Adam's few friends find him alive in a nearby corner of the campus (his life preserved by the miraculous qualities of the experimental-growth mucca-grass he's landed in), but Underwood is already practicing with a target pistol for the ultimate act of deconstruction. Can Adam's colleague Hal Emmons and his aspiring republisher Harper Nathan keep him alive long enough for him to finish his new novel, On Wonderment, or will he be marginalized by the profusion of satiric riffs and intertextual jests, by anything from a revolt of footnotes to getting swallowed by his own book? Though first-novelist Grudin (The Grace of Great Things, etc.) never quite pulls his shaggy crime plot, his metatextual bromides, and his satire together, they're all consistently sunny and good-humored. The satiric butts are too familiar and broadly ridiculed to make this as trenchant or funny as David Lodge; it's more likely to remind you of the kinder, gentler academic follies of Jane Langton, or of Michael Malone's Foolscap.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-679-41185-2
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1992


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