James Lasdun, Author . Norton $24.95 (193p) ISBN 978-0-393-00336-9

A lonely, eccentric New York academic discovers his office is also home to a deranged squatter in this startling, brilliantly mysterious debut novel by poet and short story writer Lasdun. Alerted by misplaced bookmarks, deleted computer files and a dirty bed sheet under his desk, Brit Lawrence Miller, a professor of gender studies at Arthur Clay College, becomes convinced that a stranger is camping out nightly in his office. Though preoccupied by his wife's recent decampment and his membership on the college's sexual harassment committee, Lawrence fixates on the illustrious Professor Trumilcik, an Eastern European womanizer and ex-board member, who went mad on campus one afternoon and never returned. Could he be the uninvited guest? The shocking news that several area women have been found brutally beaten to death heightens Lawrence's hysteria. Erratic behavior ruins a date with Elaine, the school attorney, and confuses his relationship with his therapist. When a heavy metal pipe falls out of his briefcase, Lawrence has to wonder: could this be the weapon used in the killings? As reality slips and slides, Lawrence, in full paranoia mode, comes to believe that Trumilcik is framing him for the murders. References to the works of Kafka and to mystical pharmacology add depth and insight, though a few key tense moments are squelched by lengthy exposition of the protagonist's compulsivethought processes. Introspective readers with a taste for the bizarre will appreciate Lasdun's eerily elusiveconclusion, but those seeking definitive closure will be left scratching their heads. Rights sold in France, Germany, Holland, Italy and the U.K. (Apr.)

Forecast:Writer's writer Lasdun attracts a cultish crowd, and his first novel should garner prominent review space and critical acclaim. It remains to be seen whether a broader audience will go for his surreal take on the campus novel, but a six-city author tour will give him some exposure, and he's sure to make appearances on the intellectual radio and television interview circuit.

Reviewed on: 03/11/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Show other formats
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-09-942835-0
Paperback - 204 pages - 978-0-393-32438-9
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-4090-0275-8
Open Ebook - 204 pages - 978-0-393-34440-0
Hardcover - 206 pages - 978-0-224-06217-6
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.