The Dean's List
The New York Times Book Review called Jon Hassler's last novel, Rookery Blues, "one of his finest and funniest novels." Now, Hassler brings back the delightful hero from that novel. He's older, not necessarily wiser, and still fumbling with love and life amid the strange campus doings of the 1990s.
Leland Edwards, a piano-playing, fly-fishing English professor, has become Dean of Rookery State College. And since the president of the college has been on automatic pilot for the last thirty years, it falls to Leland to save his beloved campus from diminished enrollment, hockey thuggery, and its ignoble associations with Paul Bunyan.
Then his old pal from the Icejam Quartet, Peggy Benoit Connor, drops a fund-raising plum in his lap. The most famous poet in America, Richard Falcon, has agreed to come to Rookery. Leland envisions thousands coming from all over the Midwest to hear Falcon's reading--an event that will put Rookery State on the literary map.
But when he arrives, the poet is both more and less than what Leland expected. Their relationship leads Leland back to memories of the father he lost when he was fourteen--and on a wild ride that will compel him to harbor a fugitive, stand up to his domineering mother, and finally make peace with his brief attempt at love and the tragedy that ensued.
Like old friends past and present, Leland and his cronies come alive to amuse, provoke, and ultimately surprise us with their touching, complicated humanity. Once again, Jon Hassler has written a novel that shows that is he one of the most gifted authors working today.
New York : Ballantine Books, 1997.
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