Tobias Wolff’s masterful short story about one woman’s quiet
revenge on the pomposity and arrogance of academia
Meticulous, funny, eccentric—Mary has always been mindful of
the complex role she plays as a professor of history. Her lectures are
carefully written out beforehand; her departmental loyalties ambiguous. She is
so careful, in fact, that she began to see herself as flat, dull, and lifeless.
The closing of Brandon College, the institution she’d spent
more than fifteen years at, changes everything. Forced to find another
position, Mary finds herself at an experimental college in rainy Oregon. Sickly
and unhappy, Mary feels as if she’s dying—until a letter from an old colleague holds
promises of a bright future. Louise works for a prestigious school in upstate
New York and wants to help her secure a position there. Excited, Mary flies
across the country for an interview. But things aren’t as they seem, and Mary, disenchanted
with Louise’s vanity and the futility of the university, for once, throws
caution to the wind.
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