The Lecturer's Tale by James Hynes
A Novel

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The author of Publish and Perish returns with a Faustian tale of the horrors of academe

Nelson Humbolt is a visiting adjunct English lecturer at prestigious Midwest University, until he is unceremoniously fired one autumn morning. Minutes after the axe falls, his right index finger is severed in a freak accident. Doctors manage to reattach the finger, but when the bandages come off, Nelson realizes that he has acquired a strange power--he can force his will onto others with a touch of his finger. And so he obtains an extension on the lease of his university-owned townhouse and picks up two sections of freshman composition, saving his career from utter ruin. But soon these victories seem inconsequential, and Nelson's finger burns for even greater glory. Now the Midas of academia wonders if he can attain what every struggling assistant professor and visiting lecturer covets--tenure.

A pitch-perfect blend of satire and horror, The Lecturer's Tale paints a gruesomely clever portrait of life in academia.


About James Hynes

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James Hynes is the author of the novels The Lecturer's Tale, Wild Colonial Boy, the stories Publish & Perish (all New York Times Notable Books of the Year), and the novel Kings of Infinite Space. He lives in Austin, Texas.
Published April 1, 2007 by Picador. 400 pages
Genres: Horror, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Starting with an unholy alliance he makes with his chair, Anthony Pescecane (think Stanley Fish with a smidge of Frank Lentricchia), to unmask the author of a series of taunting anonymous letters, Nelson soon finds himself catapulted into the department’s catbird seat, playing off postcolonial th...

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Entertainment Weekly

Hynes takes the artistic ante accrued from his widely praised 1997 novella collection Publish and Perish and raises the aesthetic stakes, creating a daring comic novel of academe: Nelson Humboldt, a low-level university English professor facing a layoff, has the tip of his right index finger...

Jan 19 2001 | Read Full Review of The Lecturer's Tale: A Novel

Boston Review

Hynes's strange and compelling hybrid of suspense and academic satire—one step beyond his 1999 collection of Gothic/academic novellas, Publish and Perish—takes as its target the wounded ego of the academic white male and his perceived (note the qualification) loss...

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