Category Archives: Chicago Tribune

Good books, bad books

1“All writers have been students, and nowadays a sizable number are teachers, so it seems nearly unavoidable that we write about the golden groves we knew.

It’s easy to dismiss “Tom Brown’s School Days” or “Stover at Yale,” or to make fun — as Tom Wolfe did more recently in “I Am Charlotte Simmons” — of a fictionalized Duke University. But there’s a sizable shelf of books about bookishness — some of them first-rate — which take education as their subject and explore the idea of learning as initiation rite. As with any other category (the Southern novel, the Jewish novel, the on-the-road novel) there are excellent and execrable texts. It’s a question not so much of genre as of how well it’s done. […]

As suggested above, there are bad books as well that deal with the circumstance of education. The professoriate makes an easy target; so does the undergraduate. Often a writer gets tempted to make intellectual molehills into mountains; lord knows it’s easy enough to overstate the cultural significance of freshman year. The risk is that of stereotype and even caricature: the absent-minded professor, the scheming administrator, the idealistic and then disillusioned student — stock figures from English 101. But the college campus is no more and no less fertile a place to situate a story than is, say, a boxing ring or tenement or cattle barn.”

April 13, 2012, Chicago Tribune

English 101 by Nicholas Delbanco

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-prj-0415-book-of-the-month-20120413,0,154025.story

More than just a baseball novel — The Art of Fielding (2011) by Chad Harbach

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“This good-enough undergraduate institution is filled with truly good people: a deeply literary president who is personally admirable, even though he has fallen in love with a student; a gruff chef in charge of dining services who is committed to cooking actually good food; a brilliant, gay, mixed-race roommate who takes his hick of a straight roommate shopping for more socially acceptable jeans; a baseball team captain who is a genuine leader of men, and so on.” http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2011/09/the_perfect_game.single.html

Reviews:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/books/review/the-art-of-fielding-by-chad-harbach-book-review.html?_r=1

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/books/ct-books-review-art-of-fielding-harbach,0,7773863.story

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/29/art-fielding-chad-harbach-review?newsfeed=true

http://www.therecord.com/whatson/books/article/665603–chuck-erion-on-books-great-novels-can-point-to-the-path-of-your-life

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-chad-harbach-20120421,0,7822952.story

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-prj-0422-bom-chart-20120423,0,1895920.story

DSC01362Chad Harbach @ Internationales literaturfestival 2012      Chad Harbach @ internationales literaturfestival berlin 2012