The Tormenting of Lafayette Jackson

Andrew Rosenheim, Author
Andrew Rosenheim, Author David R. Godine Publisher $16.95 (194p) ISBN 978-0-87923-704-2
Reviewed on: 03/01/1988
Release date: 03/01/1988
At the heart of this lovingly mocking romp through graduate life at Oxford lies an academic mystery: Is Lafayette Jackson, the mousy but eminent American professor, a fraud? Trailing her banker husband, she arrives from Maryland on a visiting lectureship, her credentials a clutch of Civil War letters and her claim to have unearthed a long-buried island in the Mississippi, site of a slave colony. She immediately runs afoul of an American Studies nut named Newcastle, a pedantic English scholar who suspects that the letters are counterfeit and is hell-bent on exposing her. Although Newcastle manages to kindle the interest of two other visiting YanksJames, the narrator, and his friend McCandlesthese scholars are far less devoted to books than to bottles. As a result, half of this admirable first novel is taken up with the pursuit of pleasure. Literate, wonderfully funny, alive with irreverent characters who would be an asset to any party and full of gossip about solemn, bed-hopping dons, this comedy limns a portrait of young men having a determined last fling. While they will never stoop to Newcastle's spiteful pedantry, they will become serious professionals in whose future the reader becomes inextricably involved. (April)
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