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Fight for Your Long Day Paperback – October 1, 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

''Fight For Your Long Day is an original, witty, uncompromising expose of how we live now: Homeland Security shadowing us, poverty, especially the less than genteel poverty of adjunct English instructors, the 'war on terror' invading our consciousness, and all around hopelessness for too many. Kudera has the courage to blast the truisms fed by the mainstream culture, but he locates some heroes too. This is a brilliant first novel.''-- Joan Mellen, author of A Farewell to Justice and professor in the graduate program in creating writing at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa.

''Duffleman is the overeducated Everyman for the age:  his acute eye for detail and his ironic twist on reality take the reader on this 'A Day in the Life' journey through contemporary America and its moral ambiguities, anxieties, and occasional delights. These last must be taken with a smidgen of horseradish to remind us that even imagined sweetness can be sabotaged.''-- Don Riggs, associate teaching professor in the English and philosophy departments of Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pa.

''Cyrus Duffleman, dedicated foot soldier of the faculty, aims high but faces frustrations and dangers every teaching day. With humor and real understanding, Kudera's novel unflinchingly exposes key paradoxes that lie disturbingly at the core of American academia today.''-- Anthony Zielonka, French and comparative literature, Assumption College, Worcester, Mass.

''Wow ... Talk about bursting the myth of teaching as a noble profession. Mind-numbing bureaucracy, stifling political correctness, and subsistence-wage pay ... this should be required reading for anyone considering a career in academia.''-- Iain Levison, a comic crime novelist whose published works include A Working Stiff's Manifesto, How to Rob an Armored Car, and Dog Eats Dog

''Like a subway-scholar Ignatius J. Reilly (A Confederacy of Dunces), adjunct instructor Cyrus Duffleman channels the rage of the academic underclass. The torments Duffleman suffers chasing across a light-rail and campus-common Philadelphia show an acute eye for all the absurdity and humiliation doled out over a long day of academic piece-work. Alex Kudera's novel makes lemonade out of the knowledge economy's stingy share of lemons, eking every ounce of catharsis owed to veterans of the core curriculum's front lines.''-- Justin Bauer, books columnist, Philadelphia City Paper

''Are you teaching semi-literate pre-capitalists who will soon be earning more than you ever will? Are you lorded over by self-important, market-minded college administrators with Cadillac health plans and six-figure salaries while you wonder if you'll be assigned enough courses next semester to pay rent and utilities? Are you so fed up and desperate that you'll cling to any fantasy, even one that could get you fired? Do you feel forsaken, not just by academia, but by literature itself? Well, finally there's a novel for you! Fight For Your Long Day is an adjunct college teacher's version of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Read it in your book club, give it to your pals, assign it to your gulag work crew, uh, I mean 'your class'...''-- Eric Thurschwell, former adjunct instructor of college math, barely employed calculus tutor, and comic writer published in Philadelphia Stories, Eclectica Magazine, and other literary places

''Duffleman's misadventures will make you laugh out loud, shake your head in dismay, and nod in recognition on every page. I just might have to steal something from this book.'' ---- Aharon Levy, fiction writer whose stories appear online and off in journals such as The Sun and ecotone

''Fight for Your Long Day presents simmering discord and strife through the eyes of Philade --Daniel Dragomirescu, editor-in-chief of Contemporary Literary Horizon magazine, a multilingual and international literary journal based in Bucharest, Romania

''[A]n exposé of academia and the labor that sustains it…the kind of novel one learns from and rallies behind. Eyebrow-raising and wry, Kudera's take on the ivory tower certainly makes it look less pearly white.'' -- ForeWord Reviews

''Cyrus Duffleman and Fight for Your Long Day cast light on [the] situation in which many contingent faculty members find themselves ... I hope the novel is popular enough to make a big change; it has already changed me.'' -- Isaac Sweeney, Academe

''[I]t is not unfair to call Fight For Your Long Day a protest novel, in much the same category of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. And like Sinclair's book, it sounds a note of genuine disgust at economic injustices ... Kudera is an extremely talented and driven novelist. The authenticity of the experience he writes about burns through on each page. The story of Duffleman and his many similarly suffering peers in the real academic world is a plight long overlooked finally getting its deserved attention.'' ---- The Southeast Review

About the Author

Alex Kudera is a Philadelphia native, and has been teaching writing at Clemson University in South Carolina since 2007. FIGHT FOR YOUR LONG DAY, which was first drafted in a walk-in closet in Seoul, South Korea, is his debut novel.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Atticus Books; First edition (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984510508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984510504
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,305,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The tale of Cyrus Duffleman is one of a downtrodden hero in our chaotic world. Kudera writes it so well, with a unique combination of satire and emotion. Cyrus's experiences create a window or mirror of not only the troubles of an adjunct professor, but a view to the challenges of our society in dealing with different cultures, races and political views. Different from another reviewer, I found Cyrus not to be racist, but calling out the racial tension that exists today. While there is humor and satire, Kudera brings such strength of character and emotion to the situations that we readers become very sympathetic to Cyrus and root for him to prevail. Overall this is a different voice telling an untold story, written in a brilliant, literary style.
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Basically the plot vehicle used for this book is to follow the life of an adjunct faculty member (of English) through one horrendous day, describing the drudgery of his existence as he progresses through 4 different colleges/universities across Philadelphia, including an added shift at one of them as a night watchman. Each teaching post is different, ranging across tutoring, business writing, composition, and literature. Various additional characters are introduced in the form of students who are having trouble coping, or street people encountered in transiting the city. The plot thread incorporates an assassination the protagonist witnesses (with a rather abstract reaction, I might add).

Much of the description of how adjunct faculty are abused by their employers is spot on, even though the protagonist is not treated with a whole lot of sympathy by the author. The observations on university administrators and the politics of the 2000's are entertaining, albeit having a President Fern comes across as a contrived attempt at arboreal humor RE Bush. The protagonist's flights of lustful fantasy also get tiresome, not helped by his pathetic attempt to hook up with a student he somehow has assumed could be interested in such a sad character as himself.

All in all this comes close to being a really good book, but in the end lands with a thud in trying to tie the rather absurd assassination plot back into the protagonist's long day. What makes it a worthwhile read is the razor sharp satire throughout. It's a solid 4-star effort, but the various structural weaknesses noted rate the one-star deduction.
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Format: Paperback
Disclosure: I have known Alex Kudera for almost 15 years. He and I taught together at Temple University and at Drexel University, both in Philadelphia. Alex is a good friend. That said, this no friendship review. Fight for Your Long Day is a wonderful book, funny as hell, satirical, silly, compassionate, complicated, politically acute, honest about the dynamics of race and class in America.

What I particularly liked about the main character Cyrus Duffleman is that he is openly race conscious. I happen to believe that 99.9 percent of the people in the United States are highly race conscious. When I hear someone say they are not race conscious, I am baffled. I have many white and black friends. I have extremely close friendships with some white people, and still I am highly conscious of race.

It's striking that some white people who claim they are not conscious of race still somehow--magically as it were--end up living in mostly white neighborhoods, marry white spouses, have sons and daughters who date only white people, go to churches and synagogues that all white. I say these folks are race conscious indeed. Either that, or they have got an incredibly observant race unconsciousness that drives them.

What marks a breakthrough in Fight for Young Long Day is the way Kudera depicts Cyrus Duffleman. Cyrus notices the black students (and their blackness), and he notices the white students (and their whiteness). Black is not "other" and white "normal." In Duffleman's mind, white and black are equally foreign, strange, and worthy of observation and questioning.

If you have ever worked as an adjunct instructor (hired on a per-course basis with no job security), you will recognize the world depicted in Fight for Young Long Day.
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Format: Paperback
I love how this focuses in detail on a single day in the life of an adjunct professor yet manages to say so much about contemporary America. It really is a microcosm reflecting the macrocosm. It's vivid and incredibly detailed, managing to keep much more suspense going than I would have thought possible. This is some good writing and I'm thrilled that I decided to pick it up.
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Alex Kudera's grimly comic novel about the academic underclass has already, in the three years since its publication, become a cult classic. Deservedly so. Its peripatetic anti-hero, Cyrus Duffleman, puts on display the bleak grind that the army of adjuncts that populate our revered institutions of higher education must endure. Duffy is not one of those "freeway flyers" that have been described in some exposés of the plight of the adjunct. He rides the Philadelphia trans system from one school to another--allowing for a glimpse into the full range of urban and academic culture (he teaches at four different schools spanning the gap between elite private and for-profit high rise). We also meet the homeless and truly hopeless during Duffy's subway commutes.

For sure this is a funny book. But it is also heartbreaking. Two especially heartbreaking things: how much the students, thirsty for education, admire Duffy and how little they grasp how oppressed and unappreciated their teacher is--the title "professor" bandied about to describe "Adjunct Duffleman" tells quite a tale about how clueless are the students about what their tuition is buying. Also heartbreaking, the way that Duffy constantly compares himself to everyone in his life, just to reassure himself of where he stands in the pecking order--to remind himself that there is still some way to fall and that he is worthy of respect. One of his higher ed gigs is supplementing his adjunct paycheck with work as a college security guard, and he cannot help but feel slightly superior to his co-workers, who live truly from paycheck to paycheck, while Duffy "could deposit it all if he wanted to, and he feels a pang of guilt and embarrassment when he dwells too long on this difference.
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