Inside/ Outside the Campus Box
The Cutting Edge

Brown, Michael E.

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/05/2016
Year Published:  2016  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21394

Book review of David Lanksy's The Cutting Edge.



For faculty, academic life is portrayed in part as a pretense that most professors can tolerate only in a persistent attitude of self-conscious irony and occasional self-denigration. For the reader, there is another source of irony. The novel never settles the identities of the main characters, which raises the difficult question of whether it is possible to imagine academic life being known from within.

Snyder, who is eventually murdered by an insane student, is a semi-tragic protagonist who represents the possibility of being authentic in the midst of so many temptations toward inauthenticity. The fact that David Lansky is a pseudonym for the book’s author, himself a prominent critical theorist, raises the question of exactly who or what "Snyder's" own narrative voice represents.

The identity of Jenny herself ultimately comes into question, so that the reader finds herself forced to recognize the academy as a whole, its aspirations and self-defeating compromises, in what otherwise might appear to be idiosyncratic accounts of anecdotes and comments on the life and times of specific individuals.
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