Friday 15 June 2007

20. Queen of the Jungle

For many years, I've been resisting most of my friend Sarah's books suggestions; not because I don't trust her, but because she almost always recommends campus novels in one form or another. (Except, of course, for the time she recommended The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, which, if I may say so, is probably one of the best YA novels ever written.) Often she recommends campus mystery or horror novels, and even while she makes them sounds very compelling, I've resisted because when I read for pleasure I really don't want to be reminded of work.

However, I've finally succumbed to her campus novel siren song and I'm now reading Queen of the Jungle by James Hynes; the author (of course) is a former and likely disgruntled adjunct professor. Queen of the Jungle is in a lovely little omnibus called Publish and Perish: Three Tales of Tenure and Terror; and if the title weren't compelling enough, this section thereof would make up for it.

Queen of the Jungle is silly and good: the queen of the title is, in fact, an emotionally complex cat who is visiting vengeance upon the main character Paul for sleeping around on his wife (the cat's real person) by peeing everywhere he has sex with his mistress, unplugging his computer when he's trying to write, and generally creeping him out.

A lot is riding on Paul's writing: he's stuck at the dead end of 3-year post-doc in Nowhere, Iowa while his wife is about to be granted tenure at Chicago University; if he can only send more chapters impressing the head of her department, he might be get a tenure-track spousal hire....I'm not familiar with this genre, but I suspect things aren't going to go his way.

I like this book; it's good; I look forward to reading more James Hynes in the future. But it is making me stressed out in just the ways I thought it would when I resisted Sarah's suggestions all these when this one's done, Hynes will be off limits till after I defend.

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