Tag Archives: Wonder Boys

Ms. Mentor Recommends: How to Write a Successful Academic Novel & A Summer Reading List

1“You’ll start, naturally, with the terror of the blank screen. Never tell yourself, ‘I am going to commit an act of literature.’ That can paralyze you. Instead, try: ‘I am going to write a horrendously awful first draft.’ That’ll get you started. Setting yourself a daily writing quota is helpful. It can be time (an hour a day) or words (500 words a day). Ms. Mentor presumes you have something in mind for your academic novel. Perhaps there’s a character you want to create—a struggling adjunct, an aggrieved graduate student, a free spirit who says the-hell-with-it-all. Probably you want some kind of revenge. First let Ms. Mentor tell you what not to do in writing your masterpiece—at least if you want her to approve of your final product.”

June 2, 2014 – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Writing Academic Novels for Fun and (Little) Profit by Ms. Mentor

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John Williams’ 1965 Stoner: An Afterlife

1“Whatever the reasons for its cooler reception in the US, I don’t agree that the novel is ‘minor’; nor do I think it is ‘great’ in the way that, say, Gatsby or Updike’s Rabbit quartet are great. I think Williams himself got it right: it is ‘substantially good.’ It is good, and it has considerable substance, and gravity, and continuation in the mind afterwards. And it is a true ‘reader’s novel,’ in the sense that its narrative reinforces the very value of reading and study. Many will be reminded of their own lectoral epiphanies, of those moments when the magic of literature first made some kind of distant sense, first suggested that this might be the best way of understanding life. And readers are also aware that this sacred inner space, in which reading and ruminating and being oneself happen, is increasingly threatened by what Stoner refers to as ‘the world’ – which is nowadays full of hectic interference with, and constant surveillance of, the individual. Perhaps something of this anxiety lies behind the renaissance of the novel. But you should – indeed must – find out for yourself.”

December 13, 2013 – The Guardian

Stoner: the must-read novel of 2013 by Julian Barnes

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/dec/13/stoner-john-williams-julian-barnes

 

January 22, 2014 – livemint

John Williams’ ‘Stoner’: A triumph of literature over common sense by G. Sampath

http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/dT7AXcGkotABxXzQveTwIL/John-Williams-Stoner-A-triumph-of-literature-over-common.html

 

June 6, 2013 – The Millions

A Forgotten Bestseller: The Saga of John Williams’s Stoner by Claire Cameron

http://www.themillions.com/2013/06/a-forgotten-bestseller-the-saga-of-john-williamss-stoner.html

 

August 23, 2013 – Die Presse

“Stoner”: Spröde, aber meisterlich by Eva Steindorfer

http://diepresse.com/home/kultur/literatur/1444883/Stoner_Sprode-aber-meisterlich

The End?

2006

http://proleartthreat.wordpress.com/2006/06/07/the-end-of-the-campus-novel/

2011

http://registrarism.wordpress.com/2011/04/04/still-the-end-of-the-campus-novel/

12013 – The Guardian

Last rites for the campus novel by John Dugdale

“Though currently very much on-trend, the campus novel is now approaching retirement age.”

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/apr/01/last-rites-campus-novel

About that back-to-school nostalgia

1“Even when you have finished your schooling, it’s hard to forget the gut-churning excitement, the strange objectless yearnings, that accompany the beginning of the academic year. This is as true, I think, for kindergartners as it is for those completing their final year of college (graduate school, by all reports, is another, far more hellish story). But it is perhaps most intense during our undergraduate days. This mingled ease and pain attains to a special plangency in America, where the past, perhaps because we have so little of it, becomes mythic almost immediately, which I proffer as a reason for the preponderance of American books among those mentioned below. Or you can blame my deep-seated jingoistic urges […] here are eight of the very best books providing the drug of nostalgia we all crave, now that we’re sliding down—as Tom Lehrer once sang—the razor blade of life.”

8/13/2012 – The Daily Beast

Must-Read College Novels: From “Lucky Jim” to “Pnin” by Sam Munson

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/08/13/must-read-college-novels-from-lucky-jim-to-pnin.html

“Indulging in some late-August back-to-school nostalgia, the Daily Beast put together a list of “Must-Read College Novels” ranging from Kingsley Amis’Lucky Jim to John Williams’ Stoner. As a fan of college, books, and college books, I thought I’d work up a supplementary list: the principal ingredients that no college novel can do without.”

8/27/2012, The Airship

Back to School: A List of Essentials for the College Novel by Kayla Blatchley

http://airshipdaily.com/blog/back-school-list-essentials-college-novel

Black Academic Fiction


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I have recently stumbled upon a blog whose author wrote a dissertation titled The Over-Education of the Negro: Higher Education, Academic Novels, and the Black Intellectual. His blogging and some posts are of interest:

On black academic fiction (bibliography)

On academic criticism (bibliography)

– On academic films:

http://lavelleporter.com/2010/06/18/the-university-on-screen-the-top-10-academic-films-2/

http://lavelleporter.com/2010/08/19/10-more-academic-films-2/

– On individual novels:

http://lavelleporter.com/2013/02/17/academic-novel-imperium-in-imperio/

http://lavelleporter.com/2011/05/05/pym/

http://lavelleporter.com/2010/12/29/japanese-by-spring/

http://lavelleporter.com/2010/08/18/stoner-by-john-williams/

Eros + pedagogy = [brain] sex

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The American Scholar, Summer 2007

Love on Campus. Why we should understand, and even encourage, a certain sort of erotic intensity between student and professor

By William Deresiewicz

“Look at recent movies about academics, and a remarkably consistent pattern emerges. In The Squid and the Whale (2005), Jeff Daniels plays an English professor and failed writer who sleeps with his students, neglects his wife, and bullies his children. In One True Thing (1998), William Hurt plays an English professor and failed writer who sleeps with his students, neglects his wife, and bullies his children. In Wonder Boys (2000), Michael Douglas plays an English professor and failed writer who sleeps with his students, has just been left by his third wife, and can’t commit to the child he’s conceived in an adulterous affair with his chancellor. Daniels’s character is vain, selfish, resentful, and immature. Hurt’s is vain, selfish, pompous, and self-pitying. Douglas’s is vain, selfish, resentful, and self-pitying. Hurt’s character drinks. Douglas’s drinks, smokes pot, and takes pills. All three men measure themselves against successful writers (two of them, in Douglas’s case; his own wife, in Daniels’s) whose presence diminishes them further. In We Don’t Live Here Anymore (2004), Mark Ruffalo and Peter Krause divide the central role: both are English professors, and both neglect and cheat on their wives, but Krause plays the arrogant, priapic writer who seduces his students, Ruffalo the passive, self-pitying failure. A Love Song For Bobby Long (2004) divides the stereotype a different way, with John Travolta as the washed-up, alcoholic English professor, Gabriel Macht as the blocked, alcoholic writer. […] What’s going on here? If the image of the absent-minded professor stood for benevolent unworldliness, what is the meaning of the new academic stereotype? Why are so many of these failed professors also failed writers? Why is professional futility so often connected with sexual impropriety? […] Why are these professors all men, and why are all the ones who are married such miserable husbands?”

http://theamericanscholar.org/love-on-campus/#.Ux2tVrvLhdc

A student paper on a similar subject (analyses of Wonder Boys, On Beauty and The Art of Fielding):

http://scholar.harvard.edu/claybaugh/pages/biblarz-campus-novel-sex-campus-other-musings

David Lodge on campus novels

September 24, 2010 11:34 pm, Financial Times

“The campus novel emerged as higher education expanded and novelists increasingly took day jobs in universities. Inherently comic and satirical, it is focused on the lives of academic staff rather than their students, and explores the gap between the high ideals of the institution and the human weaknesses of its members.”

The List: Five of the best campus novels

David Lodge on Vladimir Nabokov’s Pnin

Other top tens, top fives etc.:

Jeffrey Moore’s top 10 campus novels:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2002/jul/03/bestbooks.fiction

10 Classic Campus Novels:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/04/10-classic-campus-novels_n_857756.html#s274149&title=Gaudy_Night

Literature of the campus:

http://theconcordian.com/2013/09/articulate-literature-of-the-campus/

Top 5 Campus Novels Written by Women by Jane Bradley:

http://forbookssake.net/2013/07/05/top-five-campus-novels-written-by-women/