Replete with engaging writing exercises, harsh criticism, and contrarian advice, Still in Love is the story of one semester in a college classroom. And it is an urgent reminder that we desperately need classrooms, that those singular, sealed-off-from-the-world sanctuaries are where we learn to love our lives.
Though this is a stand-alone, Downing’s loyal readers will appreciate the depth and breadth of Mark’s character arc more than 20 years after his introduction, in Perfect Agreement. Depicting striving adjuncts, grade-grubbing students, and smug professors, Downing fearlessly pokes at the least glamorous aspects of academia. Fans of Richard Russo, Francine Prose, and Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members will enjoy Downing’s clear-eyed view from the ivory tower.
The prevailing mood is ambivalence ... That kind of wheel-spinning drains the action from the story. And as any writing teacher will tell you, the success of a story rests on the action that its central character brings to it ... Downing sets the town-and-gown scenery well, but there’s an irony in a hero advocating for active writing in such a static environment.