ARTS AND SCIENCES by Thomas Mallon


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Pint-sized romantic Artie Dunne finds himself on the edge of madness during his first year of graduate school at the madhouse that is Harvard in 1973--until he aces his exams (science) and falls in love (art), in that ironical order of importance. The times, you see, they are a-changing. The woman Artie falls in love with is a brash foreshadowing of the late 70's, a larger-than-life, foul-mouthed, brilliant, beautiful Britisher named Angela Downing who represents the values Keats-loving Attic is learning to embrace, albeit painfully and slowly: success is everything, followed closely by a polished style in getting it. Angela, however, who dozes through endless reruns of Gilligan's Island and still gets top grades, is a troublesome exemplar of these values: she makes Artie feel inadequate; he can't understand why she cares for a shrimp like him. So he chases down a former exemplar, his best friend from the late 60's at Brown, a guitar-toting draggie named Shane. Trouble is, Shane can no longer banish Attic's demons--these are new, vicious demons who want to screw up Artie's Harvard career. So--Artie gets through the year by experimenting with homosexuality, visiting a therapist, but mostly studying; and when he ends up tying the gifted Ms. Downing for first place in the end-of-year exams--well, he learns really to love, and the demons disappear. A cheerful, harmless romp whose main point seems to be: become a solid yuppie citizen for better sex; a reversal, but why not?

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1987
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin