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The Fennel Family Papers

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Positioned on the bottom rung of the ladder in a minor South Carolina university's history department, young Professor Paul Danvers shows up at the doorstep of an ancient, decadent, Southern family. Looking to make his reputation from the family's fabled papers, Paul's only hope is to hold on to his spot on the tenure track. Soon, though, he finds himself holding on to dear life. The Fennels, you see, have more than just skeletons in their closet. You've heard the expression, "publish or perish"? William Baldwin ...
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1996-01-01 Hardcover New 1996 FIRST EDITION STATED (with all numbers). Overstock mark on bottom page edges. Hardback w/ DJ. You are buying a Book in NEW condition with very ... light shelf wear. Read more Show Less

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1st Edition, VG+/Fine- 1/4" DJ tear top rear edge, 1" high black X on bottom page ends, o.w. clean, bright and tight. No ink names, bookplates, etc. Price unclipped. ISBN ... 1565120698 Read more Show Less

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Overview

Positioned on the bottom rung of the ladder in a minor South Carolina university's history department, young Professor Paul Danvers shows up at the doorstep of an ancient, decadent, Southern family. Looking to make his reputation from the family's fabled papers, Paul's only hope is to hold on to his spot on the tenure track. Soon, though, he finds himself holding on to dear life. The Fennels, you see, have more than just skeletons in their closet. You've heard the expression, "publish or perish"? William Baldwin takes it literally in this ribald, darkly comic new novel. Before you can say gimme tenure, the Fennel family has sucked the young historian into its maw of eccentricity, malevolence, incest, miscegenation, and possession by spirits. To survive, Paul must withstand voodoo hexes, sex with a ghost, and combat with a charming homicidal maniac.

From the author of the award-winning Hard to Catch Mercy. A professor at the bottom rung of the History Department ladder at a minor South Carolina university sees a chance to redeem himself when he discovers that one of his students is a direct descendant of the notorious Capt. Jack Fennel--who's the key to a Civil War-era historical controversy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like Baldwin's acclaimed first novel, The Hard to Catch Mercy, which won the Lillian Smith Award for Fiction, his second is set in a South Carolina coastal town and sends up Southern Gothic. What's new here is a wickedly funny academic satire, grafted onto a manic plot featuring murder, madness, incest, a ghost and spirit possession. Ambitious, reclusive history professor Paul Danvers, desperate to achieve tenure, starts an affair with his student, Ginny Fennel, in order to gain access to the private papers of her notorious family, lighthouse keepers since the American Revolution, whose ancestors include slave dealers, black marketers and adventurers. As Paul sifts the Fennel archives-and as he fends off Ginny's uncle, homicidal maniac Leroy Ramona, who has incestuous designs on his niece-the self-centered professor stumbles upon family skeletons. Did Ginny's wheelchair-bound father become paralyzed by falling off a porch or by jumping from a lighthouse-or was he trying to fly, caught in a voodoo spell cast by the Fennels' Gullah-speaking black servant? Was lighthouse keeper Captain Jack Fennel, Ginny's great-grandfather, a Civil War hero or a murderously indifferent cook? As this gripping, macabre, witty romp progresses, and as deranged Ginny slips into the personality of her great-grand-aunt and thinks it's 1861, Paul seems ever more likely to perish than to publish. (Feb.)
Library Journal
This is truly an odd novel. Mild-mannered to a fault, misfit professor Paul Danvors thinks he's hit academic pay dirt when his first sweetheart and student Ginny takes him home to meet her family, the Fennels. Keepers of a South Carolina lighthouse since before the Civil War, the Fennels reportedly have squirreled away historic papers that Paul hopes to bring to publication, ensuring his tenure. What he hasn't bargained for is the violence and madness of the household members, particularly Ginny's Uncle Leroy. By the time he realizes the situation he's in, Paul must struggle to survive the visit. Raucous, funny, and decidedly off-beat, this is surprisingly enjoyable reading from the author of the well-received The Hard To Catch Mercy (Algonquin, 1993).-Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
Joanne Wilkinson
Pathetically eager to make the tenure track, nerdy history professor Paul Danvers thinks he has hit the mother lode when he gains access to the famous Fennel family papers. Obsessed by his quest to unearth the ancient southern family's secrets, Danvers desperately tries to overlook the peculiar and often menacing behavior of various relatives, including a psychotic nephew whose overly enthusiastic greetings invariably cause Danvers untold pain. As he meticulously pores over the musty, moldering papers, he finds little more than recipes and weather notations. It's the family servant, Da Bena, a skillful witch doctor, who proves to be the true repository of the Fennels' history, which encompasses miscegenation, treason, and slave running. In the novel's oddly brilliant climax, Danvers finds himself engaged in hand-to-hand combat with modern-day pirates while defending a lady's honor. His triumph causes him to lose both his taste for history and his fear of living. Baldwin, also the author of "The Hard to Catch Mercy" (1993), fuels his rollicking satire with large doses of anarchic humor and totally unpredictable storytelling. And Baldwin is that rare thing--a satirist with a lot of heart. A comic gem.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565120693
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 1/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.85 (w) x 8.79 (h) x 1.19 (d)

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