Monday, June 22, 2009

More Love for P.F. Kluge's GONE TOMORROW

Book blogger Terry Weyna has a lot of love for P.F. Kluge's acclaimed novel Gone Tomorrow: "I’ve always loved academic novels. Perhaps it’s because academia was a career choice I reluctantly abandoned in order to go to law school; perhaps it’s because I still would like to get that Ph.D. in English someday; perhaps it’s because my husband is a university professor. Or maybe it’s just because academic novels are set in such an interesting milieu that I just can’t resist, a place where (based upon the fiction I read, not contacts with my husband’s colleagues) backbiting, backstabbing and gossip battle it out with intellectual passions, eccentric personalities and interesting conversation. Most academic novels seem to be satires, but this one is different: it is a sort of rueful love letter to academe. . . I saw much of my own college in this book. I attended a small private college on the western edge of Illinois that I loved with all my heart while I was there, and still love today, though I haven’t been back in decades. This book awakened in me all the joy I took in that place, in its glorious fall colors, its stubbornly tardy springs, the many, many books I read while I was there, how I learned, more than anything, to ask questions (I seemed to graduate with few answers, but oh, I knew so well how to ask questions!). I remembered the professors like Canaris, who would casually mention a book that I should read, a book that would become one of my lifelong favorites; my creative writing teacher, Don Erickson, whose notes on my adolescent scribbling I still have today; drinking beer and eating cheese popcorn at a horrible little bar with the chairmen of the English and Speech Departments and the president of the college, solving all the world’s problems. Kluge perfectly captures the love and joy that my student experiences embody, though from the viewpoint of those for whom I was simply another soul passing through. And he captures a life, too – one different from what the man who came to the campus in 1970 thought he was going to live, but one that was precious in every moment nonetheless. . . .Gone Tomorrow is a marvelous book, a genuine pleasure to read. Few books have reached my heart so completely. Sharply observed, wryly told, with pellucid prose, Gone Tomorrow deserves a wide audience. Kluge is a new author to me, but I will certainly be reading more from his pen, as he toils away at the small Ohio college (Kenyon College, in Gambier, Ohio) where he is a writer in residence."

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