The Consequences of Playing God: Tales from Lingor High School

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The Consequences of Playing God: Tales from Lingor High School

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Editorial Reviews

ForeWord Clarion Reviews
Foley's characters are not always noble, and his prose is not always lofty, but readers can keenly sense the discrepancy between the intellectual, sometimes elevated tone and the intensely painful, withering content. There is an unmistakable lushness, almost an embarrassment of richness, to Foley's writing. His use of language is vivid and authoritative: "When the panoply of brilliant autumn colors begins its drift into the deathly pall of winter browns, when all wise creatures have dug their cradles and stored provisions deep inside the earth," readers can't help but notice how Foley weds birth and death by suggesting that cradles are dug.

One of this author's great strengths is his penchant for exploring moral ambiguity. While some of his stories have decidedly ecclesiastical titles ("The Book of Timothy," "Michael The Archangel," "The Gospel According to Tim"), Foley seems to take endless delight in undercutting his protagonists' noble intentions with dubious motives. In "The Ballad of Tomasso," the father aches for the future of his son, a gifted boy soprano whose only hope for retaining his extraordinary gift is castration. Despite the oddly compelling case made for this grotesque solution, Foley doesn't hesitate to suggest it could also remedy the jealousy the father feels when his wife lavishes attention on their son.

BlueInk Reviews
Mixing broad satire with magical realism, Robert Joseph Foley's novel deconstructs one American high school piece by piece, leaving it broken and on the cusp of a disaster. As it shows itself in the course of the narrative, Lingor High School is a barely functional place where faculty and administration clash interminably and students meander irrelevantly in their wake. ...

.... the narrative continues in ways almost any teacher (and more than a few students) should appreciate. Petty academic politics drive faculty and administration hopelessly apart while plots and counterplots rage and the student body glumly soldiers on.

Symbolized by a smoking, rusty old Peugeot diesel sedan that somehow survives long enough to be passed from one generation of teacher to the next, Lingor High somehow survives as well, belching its way through endless squabbles, insanely wrong choices, and the unexplained suicide of a star student. Finally, it all comes to head in a game of "donkey ball," in which faculty and students shoot baskets from the backs of heavily sedated beasts of burden.

Ending up in a courtroom bursting with paranoia and muddled thinking, the novel probably has too much going on for its own good. Despite its faults, though, its insightful and comic take on the American high school and, by extension, American education in general strikes many of the right notes with verve and precision.

Kirkus Reviews
A series of satirical vignettes from novelist Foley (These Little Poems of Death and after Life, 2010) about the hijinks and school politics among the faculty at a suburban high school.

At fictional Lingor High School, the faculty will stop at nothing to get ahead—or at least avoid being stabbed in the back. The assorted vignettes, which span four decades, focus on different characters, often resurrecting characters who were of peripheral importance in other sections. They range from the obsolete master teacher ousted by younger administrators to students whose talents are smothered by overzealous parents or abusive coaches. Foley focuses especially on Timothy Barbieri, who attended Lingor High School as a student and returned immediately after college to begin his teaching career. Poor Timothy is disheartened to discover that being on the faculty at LHS is all about finding the right allies, not about the art of teaching. During Timothy's time at Lingor, his personal rivalry with the enigmatic principal, Mlle. Ameline, ebbs and flows in a hilarious fashion. The tongue-and-cheek narration and astute observations about human behavior are drawn from Foley's personal background as a former teacher. Not only does he address what's really inside the unmarked bottle always found in the employee refrigerator, but he also gets to the heart of unjust advancement and premature termination in bureaucratic work environments. The narrative voice varies widely among the vignettes, ranging from the pompously erudite—i.e., poetic phrasing about "Tennyson's jutting proboscis"—to the shockingly base: The principal "would market the breath of her crotch if she thought it would bring in money." Though the book is a bit longer than necessary and would greatly benefit from aggressive editing, the punchy storyline keeps the pages turning.

An amusingly offbeat parody that will appeal to quirky academics.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781479723379
  • Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
  • Publication date: 11/29/2012
  • Pages: 618
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

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