Wednesday, October 9, 2013

One Serious Classroom Novel


Yesterday, as you may know, I reviewed John Charles Lawrence's novel Never, Ever Land in tribute to the fifth anniversary of his passing. I'm happy today to present another review of this novel on the actual anniversary date.

I hope you enjoy Professor Barry A. Morris's review below and that you're moved to read Lawrence's novel.

To Sir With WTF!
John Charles Lawrence, Never, Ever Land
(Bloomington, Indiana: Xlibris, 2011).
Available in hardback, paperback, and e-book.
There aren’t many serious classroom novels in any given generation. The location stales quickly. The points of conflict become rigid overnight — teacher vs. student, teacher vs. system, teacher vs. student vs. parent become so played out so quickly that a fresh noun can become cliché before it hits the verb. The ones that leap out at you — A Separate Peace, To Sir With Love, Blackboard Jungle, Up the Down Staircase — work not because they illuminate the conditions of education, but because they illuminate the conditions of life from within the halls of education. Lesser efforts style themselves as indictments of the institutions of learning, mockeries of the motives of educators, or maudlin caricatures of children as dead souls or pubescent time bombs. The best are not about school children; they are about children who happen to go to school.

In Never, Ever Land, John Charles Lawrence has written more book than he thinks he has, and in so doing places himself among the masters listed above and in opposition to their pretenders. He sets out to chronicle in fiction his real if brief career as a teacher in a tony private Long Island school — to satirize the pretensions and foibles of rich kids, their richer parents and the necessarily sycophantic administrators who accommodate to them. Lawrence makes a big mistake, though, that lifts his work to a higher level than that to which he aspired. He fails to realize the deep and honest affection he has for his subjects. He displays the requisite impatience, ironic detachment and self-deprecation, but it doesn’t wash. These people and those times defined his trajectory more than he’d like to admit.

This is why Never, Ever Land doesn’t reduce itself to the banalities so constant in the genre. It is terse without being mean. It is critical without being judgmental. It is insistent without being strident. This man loves learning and those who learn so deeply that he can try with all his might to seem otherwise and brilliantly, tenderly fail. Never, Ever Land is like one of those ridiculously expensive dinners you rarely have occasion to sit down to. How can such small portions make you feel so full? It’s all in the technique. And just like the students, parents and teachers in this book — not to mention the author — the reader will be nourished by the experience.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                   Barry A. Morris
Pace University

Thanks, Barry. Such an insightful review. You rock, ol' buddy.

Friends, I have known Barry for over thirty years, since we were graduate students together at Indiana University, and I'm pleased to be able to present his work in this way.

Buy the book, friends. You'll enjoy it . . . I guarantee. Also, as I wrote yesterday, if you have "pull" at a major press or if you are a literary agent, I hope you will help get Never, Ever Land picked up by a large commercial press.

Won't you please comment to Barry or to me? Look for a blue link below that says “Post a comment”; if you don’t see that, look in the red line that says “Posted by” and click on the word “comments.”

Take care, friends — ingat. I hope you're having a wonderful week. Please come back to the blog and read more!


1 comment:

ammi roy said...

Heres a closely guarded secret in regard to.
jeux de flash

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