The New York Times Book Review called Jon Hassler's last novel, Rookery Blues, "one of his finest and funniest novels." Now, Hassler brings back the delightful hero from that novel. He's older, not necessarily wiser, and still fumbling with love and life amid the strange campus doings of the 1990s.
Leland Edwards, a piano-playing, fly-fishing English professor, has become Dean of Rookery State College. And since the president of the college has been on automatic pilot for the last thirty years, it falls to Leland to save his beloved campus from diminished enrollment, hockey thuggery, and its ignoble associations with Paul Bunyan.
Then his old pal from the Icejam Quartet, Peggy Benoit Connor, drops a fund-raising plum in his lap. The most famous poet in America, Richard Falcon, has agreed to come to Rookery. Leland envisions thousands coming from all over the Midwest to hear Falcon's reading--an event that will put Rookery State on the literary map.
But when he arrives, the poet is both more and less than what Leland expected. Their relationship leads Leland back to memories of the father he lost when he was fourteen--and on a wild ride that will compel him to harbor a fugitive, stand up to his domineering mother, and finally make peace with his brief attempt at love and the tragedy that ensued.
Like old friends past and present, Leland and his cronies come alive to amuse, provoke, and ultimately surprise us with their touching, complicated humanity. Once again, Jon Hassler has written a novel that shows that is he one of the most gifted authors working today.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Readers of Jon Hassler's Rookery Blues will remember Leland Edwards as a high-spirited young English professor and jazz pianist who, with like-minded fellow academics, formed a quartet called Icejam in 1969. In Hassler's latest novel, The Dean's List, Leland is 25 years older and a much sadder man. Now the dean of Rookery State College, a mediocre institution in northern Minnesota, Leland finds his administrative duties and his dying mother shouldering out what little energy or time he has for music. But if Leland Edwards has given up his dreams of a jazz career, he still has some hopes for his reputation as an academic. When a famous elderly poet, Richard Falcon, comes to Rookery State to work on what he hopes will be his final masterpiece, Leland sees an opportunity to put himself and his institution on the map.
The Dean's List is more melancholy than its predecessor. Still, Jon Hassler's inimitable style, his flair for character, and his well-limned portraits of Minnesota and its people lighten the shadow of gloom that hangs over Rookery State College this year.From the Publisher:
I must say I didn't think that I'd really enjoy Jon Hassler's fiction because it's not the
kind of fiction I generally get into. But, when I read Dean's List I simply fell in love with
these small town characters and their foibles. I've now read several other Hassler
novels and am now a genuine fan of his work. The characters have a way of insinuating
themselves into your mindset and you find yourself thinking about them during the
quiet moments of your day. Looking forward to the next one.
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