From Publishers Weekly
Memoirist Gordon ventures into fiction with this mixed academic comedy set at a Texas university. Ruth Blau, a once-promising novelist married to philosophy professor Ben, achieved some acclaim years ago, but she never got around to following it up. When celebrated memoirist Ricia Spottiswoode and her protective husband, Charles Johns, are added to the faculty, Ruth hopes this will give her a chance at the literary life she's dreamed of. In the meantime, Ben suffers when a flaky, fairy-obsessed woman replaces his longtime secretary. Ruth and Ben also try to juggle the demands of their mentally ill son, Isaac, whose only contact with them is through his therapist. The central characters, unfortunately, are too passive and spend most of their time observing each other and what happens around them, and though Gordon's prose is sharp—she particularly excels in scene-setting—the overall effect is one of disconnection: from character to character and writer to reader. (Mar.)
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In this campus satire, Ben and Ruth Blau have settled into what appears to be a comfortable routine at their Southern university campus. Ruth, mourning her inability to follow up on an acclaimed early trilogy of novels, drinks a little too much; Ben, working on a manuscript about altruism, shirks bureaucratic duties in the philosophy department. Their lives are disrupted by two arrivals: a new president determined to shake up the staid faculty habits and a popular memoirist and self-help author who prods Ruth to begin writing again. Gordon’s début novel aims at predictable targets: departmental politics, obscure academic fields, self-righteousness, and élitism. Her comedy is deft, but the plot seems contrived, particularly when the story of the Blaus’ wayward son draws things to a falsely redemptive close.
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