The Ghost Apple

Aaron Thier, Author
Aaron Thier. Bloomsbury, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-62040-527-7
Reviewed on: 01/06/2014
Release date: 03/04/2014
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-62040-528-4
Show other formats
FORMATS
Nearly 50 years after Bel Kaufman’s bestselling novel, Up the Down Staircase, depicted the hectic landscape of an inner-city high school via a variety of documents, Thier’s debut novel applies the same conventions to the world of higher education; specifically, that of a singular New England institution called Tripoli College. A letter from the late 18th century and a contemporary circular identify Tripoli as a school founded for Native Americans with a sister campus in the West Indies. Loopy course descriptions, the minutiae of faculty meetings, blurbs from the school newspaper, et al., create a delicious texture and form the structure of the book. The centerpiece of the novel is a hilariously deadpan chronology, full of conspicuous omissions, courtesy of a huge banana corporation; it begins with “Prehistory: Delicious bananas evolve in South or Southeast Asia.” Plot comes via two odd couples. The first is an elderly dean named Bill Brees (who has gone awkwardly undercover, posing as a student, and shares his “discoveries” in a blog) and an African-American student, Maggie Bell, who becomes an unlikely kindred soul for Brees. The second couple is the two linked campus settings: the sleepy elegance of the New England environment is sharply at odds with the turbulent West Indies campus, where Bill’s visit climaxes the novel. A droll comedy of modern manners, incisive without being angry, this satire within satire within satire will delight the right audience. (Mar.)
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X