Dean’s List

Hassler, Jon. The Dean’s List. New York: Ballantine Books, 1997.

One of the dangers I have with reading books based in academia is making comparisons to my own employment. The Dean’s List was no exception. Scarily so. Right down to the weird chick who pretends to be a professor…

Leland J. Edwards, Ph.D, Dean of Rookery State College and senior member of faculty is 58 years old. From the moment you meet Leland you get the sense he has never really experienced the world; never really grown up. Rookery State College runs in the family as his father chaired the History Department. He still lives with his 81 year old mother and caters to her every need as she has advanced lung disease. He is, in his own words, “excessively attached” to her. With his marriage failed, Leland pours himself into boosting Rookery’s flagging fund-raising efforts. In the hopes of bringing national exposure to the college he works to bring a renowned poet to the college for a reading. It is from this moment that Leland starts to stand up to his mother, quell the memory demons, and make peace with the problems of his past.

Favorite zingers (and there were a few): “We still had high academic standards in those days; near-illiterates had a hard time graduating” (p 2), “If all of his students had brains, who would Kahlstrom feel superior to?” (p 46), and “If I’m ever to become as enlightened as I’ve always secretly wished to be…” (p 150).

Author Fact: Hassler died in 2008 just ten days shy of his 75th birthday. He suffered from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. It’s related to Parkinson’s. One of Hassler’s characters, Richard Falcon, suffers from Parkinson’s…Which made me wonder if Hassler was trying to disguise a little of himself in Falcon.
Another interesting fact – on Hassler’s website his final resting place is given, complete with plot location in the cemetery. I thought that was a great idea. Fans of Hassler can pay their respects anytime they want.

Confessional: I didn’t read Pearl’s description of Hassler’s work closely enough. If I had, I would have caught on that Rookery Blues should have been read before The Dean’s List. Oh well.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Big Ten Country: The Literary Midwest (Minnesota)” (p 28). This was read in honor of Minnesota becoming a state in the month of May but I easily could have read it in honor of college graduation month since this took place on a college campus.

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