The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub

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9780956336460: The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub

Freewill, love, death, revolution - a student has the themes for his creative writing PhD. He pins them to Elsie Stewart and embarks on her biography. Love takes Elsie to the Spanish Civil War while the story hurtles off into the maelstrom of Ukrainian twentieth century history. Can Professor Thrub's post-structural guidance haul the project back on track? Will love and surgery redeem our student's struggles for a good life, significance and a doctorate? This biting comedy of love, desperation and existence offers a thrilling ride into the world of a major new writer.

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About the Author:

D.D. Johnston was born in Scotland and studied Sociology at Edinburgh University. He is the author of Peace, Love, & Petrol Bombs (AK Press, 2011), chosen by Helen Fitzgerald as her Book of the Year in the Sunday Herald. His short story 'The Invitation' was shortlisted for the 2012 Bridport Prize. He lives in Cheltenham and works at the University of Gloucestershire, where he is a University Teaching Fellow and a senior lecturer in Creative Writing.

Review:

Thrub is unashamedly a novel of ideas, historical and social concepts that are summarised, argued over, rebutted. And as we should expect from the title, one of the biggest of these ideas is the theory of the novel, and by extension of the novel we are actually reading... Readers are likely to find Thrub either exciting or precious, but few will disagree that this is an ambitious, erudite work with a profound interest in the world as we find it. This interest encompasses unexpectedly vivid sensory descriptions, scenes of violence such as those found in Babel, a junction of philosophy and farce reminiscent of Stoppard, a B.S.Johnson-like use of distancing, and an on-going dialectic between Kantian and post-Kantian theories of being and action...infused with a conviction of what the novel should be, and what it can achieve. --Christopher Burns, The Warwick Review

Having written of the troubled political awakening of the exploited young workers, it shows author DD Johnston's creative confidence that his second novel swerves as far away from burger-flippers as it is possible to get. The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub is like a dopamine-enhanced Porterhouse Blue. As a PhD student grapples with the issues of free will and determinism refracted through the life of a Spanish civil war veteran, Johnston offers us a clanging charivari of clinical administrators, angry old academics and randy students. Among this din, Johnston takes us on quite an emotional and intellectual journey. Being a clever bloke, his considerable book learning never quite allows the reader to dismiss him as a smarty-pants, although the great slabs of philosophical superstructure can be backbreaking. I certainly can't take any more Kant. No, the author works through the conundrum of free will versus determinism by hooking onto the life of Elsie Stewart from her youth in poverty-torn Belfast into republican Spain and eventually onto the streets of Budapest in 1956. The experiences of her lovers allows Johnston to examine the bloodthirsty situation in the Ukraine in the years after World War 1 as Bolsheviks, anarchists, nationalists, Mennonites and white Russians fought each other backwards and forwards over the steppes in a tide of violence. Like a latter-day Candide, the student - whose name we never learn - experiences the works. Professor Thrub's mentoring is limited to hurling books of philosophy at his head, his face is smashed into a jigsaw of bone by monkey-wrench-wielding thugs and his girlfriend is stolen from him by a companion on a European fact-finding mission. Johnston's raw and unexpurgated humour, which gave his characters in peave, Love and Petrol Bombs such humanity, returns as coarse as ever. Barry, the student's mate, offers him solace by tearing into just about every philosopher - 'Kant can suck my balls' - apart from Marx in about four pages of reputation shredding bile. Of course, Johnston - a libertarian communist - can't resist settling old scores against both the Spanish Communist party or the Soviet Union, but he has written such a determinedly extraordinary book we can freely forgive him for that. --Paul Simon - The Morning Star

A historical epic, a story about love, revolution and the university, with echoes of Luther Blissett's Q and a lot of laughs, this is a great book which entertains, confuses and educates in equal measure. You should read it! --Steven Johns - Libcom.org

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