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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z
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My Education

by

My Education Cover

ISBN13: 9780670024902
ISBN10: 0670024902
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Excerpt

It was only after Hendley was bombed that Lee was forced to admit to himself just how much he'd disliked him: a raw, never-mined vein of thought in an instant laid bare by the force of explosion. Of course, it was typical in his profession for diminishing elders to harbor ill-will toward their junior colleagues. But Lee, who had been tenured in his department for almost twenty-five years, felt that he was exempt from the obsolescence that infected most other professors his age. He was still capable of the harsh princeliness he'd possessed in his youth, although now he was half through his sixties, and his hair was all white. That old aristocratic hauteur would return suddenly, and his loose, dowdy trousers, always belted too high, would seem to sit on a younger man's waist. The liver spots that had come to his face would be bleached by the glare pouring forth from his eyes. His wasn't the kind of temperament spouse or child or friend had ever wanted to cleave to, but for his students it had the power to impress; like most of their peers, they found the notion of mentorship fusty. Unlike Lee in his own student days, they shunned the emeritus aura. They mostly wanted teachers who acted like pals—this was why they'd loved Hendley—but they didn't scorn Lee quite as much, he felt sure, as the other professors his age, the old men with their elbow-patched tweeds, and their stay-at-home wives who made cookies and tea for the very few students who still bothered to seek professorial counsel.

His dislike of Hendley was all the more painful to him for his ignorance of it. Had he known he might have forgiven himself his eager awkwardness in the face of Hendley's camaraderie, the oh yeses he would hear himself helplessly blurting whenever Hendley found him at their faculty coffee events, as if the past fifty years hadn't happened and he was fresh off the boat with ten phrases of English etched painstakingly in his mind. His dislike of Hendley might have prepared him somewhat, if not for what happened then at least for the dislike itself, the cold shock of his first, addled thought when he'd felt the vast fist of the detonation, like a bubble of force that had popped in his face. He'd felt his heart lurch, begin to flop in disorder and fear; he'd seen with his own eyes his wall of university-issue bookcases, the cheap metal kind with adjustable shelves, seem to ride the wall separating his office from Hendley's as if they were liquid, a wave. He had waited an endless instant, the eon between beats of his heart, for those bookcases so laden with waxy math texts to crash down in one motion and kill him, but they somehow had not. The explosion—he'd known right away it was a bomb; unlike almost all of his colleagues, he knew the feel of bombs intimately—had somehow not breached the thin wall through which, day after day, he'd heard Hendley's robust voice and his bleeping computer, and the strange gooselike yodel of Hendley's dial-up modem when it reached its objective. The explosion had not breached the wall, so that the work it had wrought on the far side was left for Lee to imagine, as he felt the force wash over him, felt his heart quail, and felt himself briefly thinking, Oh, good.

The bomb had arrived in a small, heavy cardboard box with the Sun Microsystems logo and address printed on it but afterwards it had been apparent to investigators, as it might have been to Hendley, had he examined the box with suspicion, that it had been reused—recycled, repurposed. Hendley had been alone in his office when he opened the box; Lee had known that Hendley was alone, would later realize that he had always been accurately and painfully aware of whether Hendley had student admirers in his office or not. The force of the explosion threw Lee from his chair, so that he found himself curled not quite under, but against the cold metal flank of his desk. For all that he'd lived through a violent and crude civil war, he'd never been that close to the heart, the hot core, of a bomb. He'd been in the vicinity of far more powerful explosives, such as left steaming holes in the ground—and of course, if he'd been as close, barely ten feet away, to any one of those bombs as he'd been to Hendley's, he would not have lived to feel Hendley's at all. But he had never been so close to a detonation, to that swift bloom of force, regardless of size, in his life.

After the explosion Lee lay curled on the floor of his office, his body pressed to his desk, his eyes closed; they weren't screwed shut in terror, just closed, as if he was taking a nap. The building's automatic sprinkler system had been activated by the blast, and now regular, faintly chemical rain sifted down upon Lee with an unending hiss. Lee did not register the disorder of noise taking form in the hallway: the running feet, toward and away; the first shattering scream. The ambulances arrived first, and then the police and the bomb squad; it was the bomb squad that found Lee, sitting up by that time, with his back to his desk, his legs straight out on the cold tile floor, his gaze riveted forward, but empty. Later, he would tell the police he had known, without doubt, that the bomb must have come in the mail. That rhythm, so deeply ingrained in Lee's being: the last mail of the day, the last light stretching shadows across the cold floor, the silence that grew more deep around him as the revelry in Hendley's office began. Loneliness, which Lee possessed in greater measure and finer grade than his colleagues—of that he was sure —made men more discerning; it made their nerves like antennae that longingly groped in the air. Lee had known the bomb had come in the mail because he had known that only an attack of mail-related scrupulosity would have kept Hendley in his office with the door shut on a spring day as warm and honey-scented as this day had been; Hendley was a lonely man too, in his way. Because the neighboring office was quiet, Lee knew Hendley must be alone; because Hendley was alone, he knew that Hendley was opening mail; because Hendley was opening mail, Lee knew it was that day's mail, freshly arrived. Then the bomb, and Lee's terrible gladness: that something was damaging Hendley, because Hendley made Lee feel even more obsolete and unloved. It had been the gross shock of realizing that he felt glad that had brought him to sitting, from being curled on the floor, and that had nailed his gaze emptily to the opposite wall. He was deep in disgusted reflection on his own pettiness when the bomb squad found him, but unsurprisingly they had assumed he was simply in shock.

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Erin Tuzuner, February 13, 2014 (view all comments by Erin Tuzuner)
Obsessive love can be excellent fodder for a novel. In this case, it was not. The immaturity, the college allusions to Foucault/Lacan etc, and naturally THE POTENTIAL are all par for the course when reading about college, but Choi accidentally uses synecdoche to illustrate her points. There are flashes of brilliance, usually in a well crafted sentence, but her dialog and characterization of every character except the protagonist are paltry and disappointing. The last quarter of the novel felt phon(i)ed in.
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Erin Tuzuner, February 13, 2014 (view all comments by Erin Tuzuner)
Obsessive love can be excellent fodder for a novel. In this case, it was not. The immaturity, the college allusions to Foucault/Lacan etc, and naturally THE POTENTIAL are all par for the course when reading about college, but Choi accidentally uses synecdoche to illustrate her points. There are flashes of brilliance, usually in a well crafted sentence, but her dialog and characterization of every character except the protagonist are paltry and disappointing. The last quarter of the novel felt phon(i)ed in.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
nlondon36, September 16, 2013 (view all comments by nlondon36)
Beware this book if you have to get up early for work; you will read until dawn with only bathroom breaks when necessary. The characters are alive with all of our own strengths and weaknesses: uncontrollable desire for people we know will betray us, loyalty when you'd expect it the least. The author writes sentences so dense and dazzling I marked and reread pages again and again. I shall read every other word she has written.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780670024902
Author:
Choi, Susan
Publisher:
Viking Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20130731
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
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My Education Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$18.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Viking Books - English 9780670024902 Reviews:
"Review" by , "My Education is a raw, wild, hurtling foray into the tangled realms of sexuality and self-knowledge. Susan Choi's vast gifts as a novelist are all on display, with her restlessness, curiosity and sheer daring leading the way."
"Review" by , “When I finished Susan Choi's My Education, I nearly gasped. She had managed one of the most exquisite of the novelists magic acts — produced a cogent, passionate, and surprising story, while acknowledging the ordinary, eroding aspects of lives lived daily. She had populated it with remarkable but utterly believable characters. She had written lines that could be framed, and displayed at a sentence festival. She has, in short, written an amazing book.”
"Review" by , "The throes of an obsessive relationship allow a young graduate student to avoid growing up for a little while in Choi's dark and stormy fourth novel (following A Person of Interest). Regina Gottlieb, anxious about being a new student in a prestigious graduate English program, finds a welcome distraction in Nicholas Brodeur, her seminar professor. His offer of a TA position calms her fears of inadequacy, and even Regina's roommate, Daniel Dutra, a med student and born eccentric, approve of the connection. Despite Nicholas's good looks and the rumors about his raffish ways on campus, Regina is able to keep a personal distance from him. It's different, however, when she meets his wife, Martha, during a party at the Brodeurs' house. The two women soon embark on a torrid, all-consuming affair, with Regina measuring her days in a toxic swirl of hours in Martha's bed and at a local bar. Even as Regina loses her way, though, the narrative never lacks direction. Choi keeps the moments between her characters believable while building momentum toward the illicit lovers' inevitable falling-out. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit. (July)"
"Review" by , "As with her previous novels, Choi's talent resides in her densely layered prose and her slowing down the pace to draw readers into the inner worlds of her characters. The result is a deeply human tale of intentional mistakes, love and lust, and the search for a clearer vision of one's self."
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