Summer (reading) therapy for educators

That Old Cape Magic

Six years into my career as an educator a friend gave me Richard Russo’s Straight Man. I laughed, and then I laughed more; and laughing at the truisms of academia feels better than therapy.

Last week I saw Russo speak at the Los Angeles central library’s ALOUD series about his new book, That Old Cape Magic. I bought the book at the library and couldn’t put it down. Russo revisits academia with protagonist Griffin and his parents. Griffin has worked in the industry as a screenwriter early in his career, before settling into an east coast teaching position with his family. His parents (William and Mary, ha, ha) were English professors at a second-rate university in what they call, “the midfuckingwest.” They shared contempt for the academy and its hallow promises. Although his mother went to Yale, she would always be trapped at an institution that was far from ivy league. A month on the cape in the summer was just enough time for the academic couple to fantasize about buying a retirement beach house – something between, “can’t afford it” and “wouldn’t have it as a gift,” but of course, there is nothing between the two extremes (and even if there were, this couple wouldn’t make it to retirement together). Griffin, affected with the same yearning for the intangible, finds himself in absurd situations and darkly funny conversations with his dead mother. If you are an educator, read this in the summer – preferably on the Cape.

Here is a clip of Russo reading from an early part of the book:

In this video, Russo discusses Griffin with LA Times Jacket Copy blogger, Carolyn Kellogg.

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