When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me. And so we are introduced to our narrator: a popular English professor whose charismatic husband at the same small liberal arts college is under investigation for his inappropriate relationships with his former students. And when our narrator becomes increasingly infatuated with Vladimir, a celebrated, married young novelist who's just arrived on campus, their tinder box world comes dangerously close to exploding.
... a witty dance with the ghost of Nabokov and a razor-edged commentary on academia at our current fraught moment ... At the end of the day, these characters may suffer skewering as English professors, and they may suffer skewering as all-too-human lovers, but Jonas seems to take the most pleasure in tormenting them as writers ... contains far too many uncomfortable truths to be merely fun, but — especially for those of us with feet in the worlds of academia and literature — it remains, by turns, cathartic, devious and terrifically entertaining.
The excitement begins on the cover, designed to drop jaws ... There’s no mistaking the subject of this novel, which is desire ... Jonas...is a playwright and professor at Skidmore College ... The intriguing titles of [her] plays — among them, 'We Used to Wear Bonnets & Get High All the Time' and 'Untitled Zoo Story Project (Autosaved)' — share the cleverness and current sensibility that infuse the novel ...The lightning-quick fantasy detours are an ongoing pleasure of the novel, one of the elements that makes you love the narrator despite her pesky streak of awfulness ... She has you in the palm of her hand at this point, and you are not going anywhere ... Jonas’s narrator is a work of art in herself, with at least one foot on the wrong side of #MeToo. You wouldn’t want to let that stop you.
Explore[s] in blistering detail the power imbalances that inevitably exist in academia—and their unsettling consequences ... Jonas dissects her narrator’s shifting perspectives on power and desire ... In darkly funny terms, Jonas creates a portrait of a narcissist reckoning with her age and vanity, but also the limits of her power. She’s certainly not one to root for, but that doesn’t make her observations on the impact of her husband’s actions any less astute ... The combination of knowledge, power and misbehavior makes for a titillating story.