cover image Arts and Sciences: A Seventies Seduction

Arts and Sciences: A Seventies Seduction

Thomas Mallon. Ticknor & Fields, $16.95 (210pp) ISBN 978-0-89919-420-2

With two nonfiction works under his belt (including the critically acclaimed A Book of One's Own) Mallon has tackled what one suspects is a highly autobiographical coming-of-age novel set at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1973but with a decade's perspective. The narrative is fresh and imaginative, and Mallon avoids banality; the topic is after all the trials and tribulations of a first-year graduate student. Like the author, the central character, Artie Dunne, is Roman Catholic, a graduate of Brown University. In spite of his long hair, Artie personifies the fulfillment of the American dream; he is the first of his family to go to college. He's a whiz at tests but an emotional misfit. When his best friend Shane, a ne'er-do-well from Brown days, takes off for California to seek his fortune, Artie hooks up with Angela Downing, a brilliant English classmate and a wealthy divorcee. They pull a lot of juvenile pranks on their teachers, study together and, in Artie and Angela's case, fall in love. The novel never treats its issues seriously, but it's so funny one never wants it to. (February 14)