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Hank Devereaux, a fifty-year-old, one-time velist w serving as temporary chair of the English department, has more than a mid-life crisis to contend with when he learns that he must cull 20 per cent of his department to meet budget. Half in love with three women, unable to understand his younger daughter or come to terms with his father, he has a dangerous philosophy that life, and academic life, could be simpler, but he fails to see the larger consequences of his own actions or of the small-world politics that ebb and flow around him, as his colleagues jostle for position and marriages fall apart and regroup. The despair of his wife, and the scourge of the campus geese, he is a man at odds with himself and caught somewhere between cause and effect.
Richard Russo won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for his fifth novel, Empire Falls. He is also the author of Mohawk, The Risk Pool, Nobody's Fool, Straight Man, Bridge of Sighs and That Old Cape Magic, as well as a collection of stories, The Whore's Child. His original screenplay is the basis for Rowan Atkinson's film Keeping Mum. He lives with his wife in Maine and in Boston.