Imagine the fishbowl as a meeting room for religious knights, rather than the diverse body of students which pass through it on a daily basis. Or think of Sate Street as the town society of Medieval times. James Hynes does so, in his newly released satire on academia, “The Lecturer”s Tale.” Set at a fictional Midwestern university, many of the character”s commentaries could possibly be heard all throughout the realms of Ann Arbor, where most of the society is affiliated with Ann Arbor in one way or another.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of Saint Martin”s Press LLC

With a cast of characters who are all immediately connected with university life, Hynes targets the self-importance of many scholars who are encompassed in academic life. Adding to his comic effects, Hynes uses the language of literature, focusing on theory, criticism and critical issues to further develop the politics of the university. Characters such as the Irish impersonating poet who calls himself “The Coogan” and the Columbia professor who opts not to write a dissertation bring humor from all angles-light to black.

The main character, Nelson, truly brings out the satire aspect and the parallel idea of misinterpretation also running through the novel. As Nelson says, “There is no exercise of the intellect which is not, in the final analysis, futile.”

“The Lecturer”s Tale” is Hynes” second novel, his first being, “Publish and Perish,” which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Hynes, a winner of the University”s Hopwood Award, will be returning to his hometown of Ann Arbor, reading at Shaman Drum Feb. 6th at 8pm and at Borders on Feb. 7th at 7pm.

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