cover image School Days

School Days

Jonathan Galassi. Other Press, $25 (224p) ISBN 978-1-63542-189-7

Publisher and poet Galassi’s emotionally resonant latest (after the novel Muse) chronicles an English instructor’s complicated relationship with his Connecticut boarding school. In 2017, Leverett senior faculty and alumnus Sam Brandt is tasked by the school’s headmaster with investigating allegations that Theodore Gibson, a demanding yet beloved teacher, sexually abused students decades ago. Suppressed emotions surface from Brandt’s years as a Leverett student in the late 1960s, when it was an all-boys school. A protracted flashback ensues, detailing how Sam cautiously allowed his passion for his dormmate to simmer to the surface, despite otherwise keeping his sexuality a secret. Brandt tries to reconcile his memories of Gibson’s formative mentorship, which kept him mentally afloat through his school years, with the accusations levied by several of his Leverett classmates. Meanwhile, as an adult, Brandt continues to suppress his sexuality, eroding his longtime marriage to a woman. Galassi’s talent for crisp and moving storytelling is again on display, elegantly turning on themes of truth, loyalty, and the ways in which his protagonist’s capacity for self-deception override his desire to enjoy an “unlived life.” This heartful novel packs a punch. Agent: Andrew Wylie, The Wylie Agency. (Apr.)