Hummingbirds: A Novel

Hummingbirds: A Novel

by Joshua Gaylord

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Overview

"Those of us who love Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie will now have to make room next to it on our shelves for Joshua Gaylord's winning debut." —Brock Clarke, author of An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England

"Hummingbirds positively glistens with erudition and insight. Whether writing about prep school girls or the adult men who walk among them, Gaylord's stunning writing elevates his subject matter with equal parts humanity and elegance." —Jonathan Tropper, author of This Is Where I Leave You

In the tradition of Francine Prose's Blue Angel, Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep, and Alan Bennett's The History Boys, Joshua Gaylord's Hummingbirds reveals the intertwining—and darkly surprising—relationships between secretive students and teachers at an all-girls prep school in New York City.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061769023
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/05/2010
Series: P.S. Series
Pages: 358
Sales rank: 787,433
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Joshua Gaylord has taught at an Upper East Side prep school for the past ten years. He also teaches literature and cultural studies as an adjunct professor at the New School. He lives in New York.

What People are Saying About This

Jonathan Tropper

“Hummingbirds positively glistens with erudition and insight. Whether writing about prep school girls or the adult men who walk among them, Gaylord’s stunning writing elevates his subject matter with equal parts humanity and elegance.”

Brock Clarke

“HUMMINGBIRDS is a sly, charming novel about the students at a Manhattan girls’ school and the adults who sometimes remember to teach them. Joshua Gaylord’s winning debut.”

Ed Park

“Keenly plotted and psychologically acute, this novel thrums with deceptions great and small—what we don’t tell each other, and what we won’t admit to ourselves.”

Customer Reviews

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Hummingbirds 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
zibilee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Leo Binhammer is an English instructor at Carmine-Casey Academy, a private high school for girls. Adored and admired, Leo finds great contentment and solace in his profession as the only male teacher in the English department, doting girls following his every move. But Leo's world is disrupted when, one day, a charismatic new teacher named Ted Hughes arrives. This teacher is also a young and attractive man, and although he is friendly and amiable, Leo begins to feel displaced from his high perch at the school when the girls begin to notice and appreciate the attractive newcomer. As Leo learns to adjust to his new circumstances, life continues on at school and complexities and rivalries crop up in not only the students' lives, but in the teachers' as well. Leo and Ted become unlikely friends and Leo begins to unwittingly uncover all the many secrets and intrigues that Ted has kept hidden. Wryly amusing and stylistically deft, Hummingbirds is a cautionary and provocative tale about the overly fragile egos of two very educated men.I really enjoyed this book, and for the most part, I would have to say that it was extremely well crafted. I was impressed with the author's writing style. It was very fluid and engaging, and in addition, most of the writing was very witty and humorous. The author seemed really adept at creating humorous situations and dialogue that really made the story sparkle and sizzle. Other sections of the book were written a bit like prose: great imagery and succinct word choices that made an impact without being overbearing. The writing struck the perfect balance for me by being neither too sparse nor too wordy, and instead I felt that the author was able to capture the emotions and conundrums of his characters perfectly. The narrative was told through several points of view, but these shifts were handled very solidly and without a lot of confusion, making the multiple narrator strategy very successful.The story actually had three subplots: two involving the teachers, and one involving the students. It was very amusing to see that the teachers and staff had more drama and intrigue going on than the students did and that they handled their dramas with much more immaturity and snark than a group of teenage girls ever could. Though the story that focused on the students was interesting and involving, I thought that the grist behind the teachers' escapades was much more satisfying to me personally. I think on the whole, the story was integrated very well, with neither side dominating the limelight excessively.I also thought that all of the characterizations were done very well and were remarkably detailed, though my favorite was the exasperated Binhammer, who sometimes could be a bit churlish when it came to his waning popularity. The author really had the knack for crating well rounded three dimensional characters, and I thought that he was quite brilliant in his creations of the schoolgirls. He managed to capture all the innocence and seductiveness that was teetering on the edge of their femininity remarkably well, and it was not hard at all to take them seriously as both girls and women due to their expert creation.The only part of the book that I took exception to was the ending. Up until the last section of the book, I was happily reading along and spending most of my mental energy in being impressed by the author's turn of phrase or expert scene creation. I was completely taken by surprise by the turn the book took towards the end, and the main thing that bothered me was not the direction that the action took in the story, but the way the characters reacted to it. I don't want to say too much about the plot twist because I fear I will be giving too much away to those that are going to read the book, but after a certain point, I didn't think that the reactions of the surrounding characters were very realistic, especially in the case of Binhammer. It was almost as if he changed some of the fundamental aspects of
alanna1122 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
AUDIO VERSION.This book was a really strange read - or since it was the audio book - a really strange listen? It was very uneven and kept meandering in the slowest way - taking time to deviate to all kinds of asides - rather than feeling meaty and complex - it felt really unfocused and messy. The main character Binhammer was really hard to understand. He seemed to react to experiences in a really uneven and unpredictable way. The other major character Ted Hughes was lack luster. His portrayal in the book really didn't support the adoration that he reportedly received from all the women of the world. Really strange book - felt like a first draft that really needed some major help with direction and editing. *******The book was not helped by the reader either. She was not well practiced at male voices and employed a technique for the male characters of sort of just letting her voice peter out in to a staccato growl-y noise at the end of each thought that was really annoying. In retrospect - I find it really odd that they went with a female reader when the book is so heavily male.
crazy4novels on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you like witty and satirical writing about prep school peccadilloes, this was enjoyable light reading, but I would strongly suggest "The Headmaster's Dilemma," by Louis Auchincloss, as a better example of this genre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bass defenitly because you rock *leans agaunst the door*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Throws on army camo pants, a black bare midrift shirt, black boots, and black fingerless gloves.
ResidualWaste More than 1 year ago
This book is well crafted and enjoyable to read! I found it very difficult to put down. Gaylord's characters compliment each other lovely and are believable. In both my adolescent and adult life I have met similar characters. Filled with drama and intrigue, this book is a must read!
GA-NJ More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book for the everything it was, and everything it wasn't. The story is well written, and the action in the novel is continuous, whether it be with Binhammer or a supporting character. All of the characters from the Dixie to Ted Hughes are resemblng of people we might already know, which can help us to identify with the characters. I also appreciate Joshua Gaylord's focus on high school, and the colorful way he paints the social atmosphere there. Often novels around high school environments make the students in the school outside of the main character seem gray and almost inanimate. I highly recommend this powerful novel!