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Option Three: A Novel About the University Paperback – January 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Blue Thread (2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985113871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985113872
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,265,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joel Shatzky was born in Vancouver, Washington in 1943 but was raised in the Bronx. He attended Music and Art High School (now LaGuardia), and Queens College, CUNY, later receiving an MA at the University of Chicago in 1965 and a Ph.D. in dramatic literature from NYU in 1970. He moved to upstate New York with his wife in 1968 and taught at SUNY, Cortland, for the next thirty-seven years, retiring in 2005 as Professor Emeritus.

His first play produced in NYC, "The Day They Traded Seaver," directed by Dino Narrizano in 1979,premiered at Soho Artists. Subsequently, several one-acts of his were produced at Thirteenth Street Rep and One Dream Theatre. In 2006 Shatzky returned to the New York City area and had eight plays produced there in the next two years, including two at Thirteenth Street Rep: "Amahlia," and "Orphans." Shatzky's first professionally produced play was presented in 1976 in London at the ICA Theatre, "It's a Clean, Well-lighted Place," directed by Victoria Bird. He's also had plays produced in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and in Los Angeles at the Improv Theatre. Shatzky, who lost his wife in 2004, is living in Brooklyn and teaches writing and fiction at Kingsborough CC. In 2009 he married Ilana Abramovitch, a college educator. Shatzky's son, Ben, is a lawyer and lives with his wife, Betty, and daughter, Sophia, in Bayside. Shatzky's daughter, Judy, is a social worker who works in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

A prolific author, Shatzky has twelve published books, several of which he collaborated on including a two-volume reference work with Michael Taub: "Contemporary Jewish-American Novelists" and "Contemporary Jewish-American Dramatists and Poets" (Greenwood Press, 1997, 1999). The first of these was judged an "Outstanding Book of 1997" by Choice. Other books include "Iago's Tale: A Fable" (Drybones Press, 2002) and a memoir he wrote with his late wife, Dorothy, "Facing Multiple Sclerosis: Our Longest Journey" (Drybones Press, 1999). His interest in Holocaust Studies led him to edit and publish a memoir by a Holocaust survivor, Susan Cernyak-Spatz, "Protective Custody Prisoner 34042." It was recently adopted by a major German publisher in a German translation. He also edited another Holocaust memoir, by Norbert Troller, "Theresienstadt: Hitler's "Gift" to the Jews" (UNC Press, 1991).
Among Shatzky's other fiction are the novels "Eternal Duet" with Joanne Napoli about the life of Clara and Robert Schumann; "Well of Evil," a young adult novel; "WAM" an imaginary biography of a modern-day Mozart;"Sophia," an epic set during the Russian Revolution; "Intelligent Design: A Fable," a Sci-fi novel set 25,000 years in the future and the recently published "Option Three."

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Toby Grace on February 7, 2013
Format: Paperback
Option Three by Joel Shatzky is a book that could only be written by someone with many years of experience with time-serving, incompetent, pompous, sell-out college administrators and adjunct faculty expected to "do more with less" meaning get paid barely enough to buy a jar of peanut butter (house brand)and have no job security whatever. As a professor for 30 years, Shatzky knows whereof he speaks and has made a biting, hilarious satire of the whole apalling mess higher education has become. Anyone with any experience of a college or university is quite likley to think Shatzky wrote this about his or her institution. This is a VERY funny book. If you like the work of Tom Sharpe or the better work of the old Sat. Night Live ensemble or South Park, you will really enjoy Option Three
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T Williams on March 31, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a very enjoyable book, particularly for anyone who has attended college, taught at a college, worked at a college, is the parent of a college student, knows a college student or professor, or visited or driven past a college. It brings to mind "Catch-22," doing to the university what Heller did to the Army. The satire, which in the hands of a less skilled author might have been overly caustic, is leavened by wonderfully absurd humor; think Donald Barthelme or the Marx Brothers. The humor is the natural result of the academic backbiting, the machinations of the corporate overseers and the duplicity of the politicians all taken to their "logical" extremes. Nonetheless, serious undertones are also present - loss of academic freedom, corporate control of learning, and what exactly an education costs. At the end, like Circassian, the protagonist, you don't know whether to laugh, cry, be angry or resigned.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Del I. Janik on March 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
Joel Shatzky's Option Three is an often hilarious and yet poignant satire of today's higher education complex and, more broadly, corporate America. Its depiction of Acting Visiting Assistant Professor Circassian's attempt to survive in a typical American college of the early 21st century is all too realistic and, alas, prophetic. More and more professors are acting, visiting, adjunct, and contingent (that is, one minute away from being unemployed); even venerable public institutions are stealthily being corporatized and marginalized; and thanks to creeping (galloping?) technology too many colleges and universities are moving swiftly in the direction of where Circassian's ends up: with instruction "95% automatic"; only 5% holdout students demand "live" teaching. But in Shatzky's hands the way to intellectual perdition keeps us laughing--sometimes literally out loud--through our tears. Circassian's surname reminds one of Yossarian, and Option Three is a Catch 22 for the contemporary academic world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Biu on February 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
Joel Shatzky's mordant wit makes Option Three an insatiable, amusing, and edifying read at a time when the teaching profession is under assault on all levels. Just from the title alone, one knows that the "option" given Professor Circassian that would make it financially practical for him to continue at the university will be one that neither he nor anyone with his experience would want. Shatzky's delightful sarcasm about the workings of university administration and its treatment of dedicated faculty is a reality. He makes the point that, ultimately, holograms just might replace human instructors to avoid their being compensated to the degree that they so richly deserve!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The premise is interesting and the names of the characters are amusing, but overall it is too off the wall to be really funny. I thought the topic was very pertinent and timely, but the author missed an opportunity for a convincing story by making it too ridiculous to be credible. Bureaucracy at universities and abuse of the system by higher administrators is a subject worth telling. But Shatsky is no Malcolm Bradbury or David Lodge, unfortunately.
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By Mark Wolff on July 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
Joel Shatzky's Option Three takes a satiric swipe at the sorry state of higher education in the U.S. in the 21st century. His thesis is that colleges and universities are subject to being "hucksterized" into cost-effective institutions of higher earning (except, of course, for the instructors and professors), leaving actual learning to barely a footnote.

It is also an homage to Joseph Heller's Catch-22 (even the main character, Circassian, evokes Yossarian), with undertones of Kingsley Amis' Lucky Jim, subtle notes of Orwell's 1984, and
Marx (Groucho, that is).

Shatzky's style is quite funny, despite the seriousness of the subject, and the reader gets a generous dose of good humor along with the keen insight Shatzky has achieved from a long career in academe. One of the notions he tackles is: who has the right to ruin what's left of higher education, a topic he treats with irony and wit.
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Format: Paperback
This hilarious satire shows what a university education is like when it is run on the business model. Although the book is chock full of creative words, colorful characters, and zany situations, it nonetheless provides a devastating critique of what is happening to higher education in America.
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