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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Johnson's wry first novel is a satire of academia, complete with an apocalyptic twist for unsuspecting readers. Anthropologist Hank Hannah takes special pride in the work of his students. His star pupils include Eggers, living for an entire year as a member of the "Clovis," a prehistoric civilization, and Trudy, whose theories relate to the artistic legacy this primeval society may have left behind. As Eggers and Trudy bicker over scientific theories and financial grants, Hannah addresses some issues of his own: his recently widowed and seemingly sex-starved father, and Hannah's own attempts to apply historical reasoning to modern romance.
When Eggers unearths an ancient Clovis spearhead, he teams up with Hannah and Trudy on a clandestine mission yielding disastrous results for humankind. Hannah reflects on the demise of his own species: "The successful forms of life are the parasites, the ones who bleed their environment to optimal exploitation, who stunt everything by taking a lion's share, who leave their hosts alive but shriveled." With the future of humanity left to just a handful of comrades (academics, no less!), the studious triumvirate apply their understanding of an extinct civilization in an effort to bring about the dawn of a new age. Johnson has penned a darkly visionary novel, with keen insights and just enough pathos to keep readers enthralled. (Fall 2003 Selection)